Looper Godfrey


1908 saw the rise of a Natal swimmer who was one of the greatest exponents of the trudgeon stroke of all time, George "Looper" Godfrey.

In the South African Championships that year this young Queen's Park swimmer (he subsequently joined up with Otters two seasons later) set up a new S.A. record in the 220 yard heats. Although through inexperience he was unable to repeat this form in the final, managing only a second place in the 500 yards, he succeeded in the following year in depriving the great Transvaaler, Ben Jenkins, of the triple crown by winning the 100, 200 and 500 yards championships.

In 1910, he was unfortunately handicapped by an abscess in his ear and managed only to retain the 500 yard title. Then came an incredible sequence of three-in-a-row hat-tricks, for he won the triple crown in 1911, 1912 and 1913 and would have made it four in a row in 1914 had he not lost the 1 00 yards championship through poor judgement. By that stage he had none-the-less won the 500 yards title six years in succession and from 1912 was the S.A. record holder for 100, 220 and 500 yards. Such was his class that despite developments in style, training and techniques, none of his three records were broken until 1923!

He represented South Africa at the Olympic Games at Stockholm in 1912, but alas both the Americans and Australians had since mastered the Hawaiian crawl and he was outclassed.