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John Jarvis

Biographical information

Medals OG IG
Gold 3 0
Silver 0 1
Bronze 0 2
Total 3 3
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games, Competed in Intercalated Games
Full nameJohn Arthur•Jarvis
Used nameJohn•Jarvis
Born24 February 1872 in Leicester, Leicester, England (GBR)
Died9 May 1933 in Holborn, Greater London, England (GBR)
AffiliationsOsborne SC, Manchester (GBR) / Leicester SC, Leicester (GBR)
NOC Great Britain


Jack Jarvis won his first Olympic title in 1900 when he beat the Austrian Otto Wahle by more than a minute in the 1,000 metre freestyle. Eleven days later he won a second gold in the 4,000 metres freestyle with an even more resounding victory, finishing about 11 minutes ahead of the Hungarian Zoltán von Halmay. The fact that both races were swam with the benefit of the downstream current in the River Seine made a significant contribution to the fast times recorded. Jarvis won three more medals at the 1906 Games in Athens and made his third and final Olympic appearance in 1908. By this time he was 36-years-old and, after winning his heat in the 1,500 metre freestyle, he failed to finish the semi-final. Between 1897 and 1906 Jarvis won 24 ASA swimming titles representing Leicester SC, and in 1904 he was also the plunging champion. He won 108 major international races using a right overarm sidestroke with a special kick he had developed with Joey Nuttall, a leading professional of the time. This effective technique, known as the Jarvis-Nuttall Kick, enabled Jarvis to set many world records although none were ever so officially recognized by FINA. Jarvis was also a water polo international for 11 years, from 1894 to 1904. After his retirement from competitive swimming, Jarvis devoted himself to life saving techniques and was respectfully referred to as “Professor” Jarvis. He personally saved many lives including a well-publicized rescue when he brought in twin sisters. His sister Clara was chaperone to the British women’s swimming team at the 1912 Olympics and three of his daughters, all swimming teachers, went to Florida in 1968 to represent their father at his posthumous introduction into the Swimming hall of Fame at Fort Lauderdale.


Games Discipline (Sport) / Event NOC / Team Pos Medal As
1900 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) GBR John Jarvis
1,000 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
4,000 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) 1 Gold
200 metres Backstroke, Men (Olympic) DNS
Water Polo (Aquatics) GBR John Jarvis
Water Polo, Men (Olympic) Osborne Swimming Club, Manchester 1 Gold
1906 Intercalated Games Swimming (Aquatics) GBR John Jarvis
400 metres Freestyle, Men (Intercalated) 3 Bronze
1 mile Freestyle, Men (Intercalated) 2 Silver
4 × 250 metres Freestyle Relay, Men (Intercalated) Great Britain 3 Bronze
1908 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) GBR John Jarvis
1,500 metres Freestyle, Men (Olympic) AC h2 r2/3