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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(s) 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 Status Team Pos Details
1900 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) 1,000 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 1 Gold Representing Great Britain    
  4,000 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 1 Gold
  200 metres Backstroke, Men Olympic DNS
Water Polo (Aquatics) Water Polo, Men Olympic Osborne Swimming Club, Manchester 1 Gold
1906 Intercalated Games Swimming (Aquatics) 400 metres Freestyle, Men Intercalated 3 Bronze Representing Great Britain    
  One Mile Freestyle, Men Intercalated 2 Silver
  4 × 250 metres Freestyle Relay, Men Intercalated Great Britain 3 Bronze
1908 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) 1,500 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic AC h2 r2/3 Representing Great Britain