An outstanding British freestyle swimmer, bricklayer Syd Battersby won ASA titles at every distance from 200 yards to one mile, and also won the Long Distance Championship on the River Thames. In total he won six ASA titles including the 200, 500, 880 yards and one mile, all in 1909. Battersby also won the 440 yards salt water title in 1908, and the long distance title in 1910. Additionally, he obtained 14 more podium finishes between 1906-12. He was also a good standard water polo player, and was a member of the Leigh Water Polo Club in Lancashire (now Greater Manchester).
Battersby was a prolific record breaker, and set 400 (5:48.8) and 1500 metres (23:42.8) Olympic records in 1908, when he won a bronze medal in the latter event. He added to his Olympic medal collection with a bronze in the 4x200 metres freestyle relay in 1912. Battersby set just one World (and European) record, when he swam 5:35.8 for the 400 metres at London on 21 September 1911. Unfortunately, the record stood for just seven months. He also set British records at 300 and 440 yards, and his mile record of 24:01.4 set at Southport on 7 August 1909, stood as a British and English native record for nearly 22 years, long after Battersby had emigrated to Australia in 1922, where he lived at Bondi Beach for a while.