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Henry Taylor

Biographical information

Medals OG IG
Gold 3 1
Silver 0 1
Bronze 2 1
Total 5 3
TypeCompeted in Olympic Games, Competed in Intercalated Games
SexMale
Full nameHenry•Taylor
Used nameHenry•Taylor
Born17 March 1885 in Oldham, Greater Manchester, England (GBR)
Died28 February 1951 in Oldham, Greater Manchester, England (GBR)
Measurements165 cm / 66 kg
AffiliationsChadderton SC, Chadderton (GBR)
NOC(s) Great Britain

Biography

Henry Taylor’s total eight Olympic medals is a record for a British Olympian in any sport and his feat of winning a medal in the same event, the freestyle relay, at four successive Games remains unique in British Olympic history. Born in poor circumstances, Taylor worked in the mills in his native Lancashire and trained in the canals and streams around his work-place. He only used the local swimming baths on “dirty water day” when admission was cheaper. As it happened, this proved to be an admirable preparation for the 1906 Olympics in Athens where the swimming events were held in the open sea at Phalerum Bay. Taylor was the surprise of the games and won two gold medals, although he had yet to win an ASA title. On his return home he set about remedying this omission and by the end of the season he was the British champion at 400 yards, 500 yards, 880 yards and 1 mile. His winning time of 11:25.4 seconds for the 880 yards was recognized as the inaugural world record and he claimed further world records at the 1908 Olympics in the 800 metres and 1,500 metres. In all, Taylor won 15 ASA titles, the last being the long distance event in 1920 when he was 35 years old and still playing water polo for England. Having originally competed for Chadderton SC, he later joined the Hyde Seal Club. He found his lack of formal education a considerable handicap in a variety of ways and while on tour it fell to Jack Jarvis to write Taylor’s love letters home. Taylor pawned his swimming trophies to buy the Nudger Inn at Doleross, but the business venture failed and he never redeemed his prizes. In 1969 Taylor, one of the greatest all British Olympians, was posthumously inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Results

Games Discipline (Sport) Event Status Team Pos Details
1906 Intercalated Games Swimming (Aquatics) 400 metres Freestyle, Men Intercalated 2 Silver Representing Great Britain    
  One Mile Freestyle, Men Intercalated 1 Gold
  4 × 250 metres Freestyle Relay, Men Intercalated Great Britain 3 Bronze
1908 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) 400 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 1 Gold Representing Great Britain    
  1,500 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 1 Gold
  4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men Olympic Great Britain 1 Gold
1912 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) 400 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 5 h2 r2/3 Representing Great Britain    
  1,500 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic AC h1 r2/3
  4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men Olympic Great Britain 3 Bronze
1920 Summer Olympics Swimming (Aquatics) 400 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic 4 h1 r2/3 Representing Great Britain    
  1,500 metres Freestyle, Men Olympic AC h1 r1/3
  4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men Olympic Great Britain 3 Bronze

Olympic Records

Records may have been broken subsequently during the same competition.
Games Date Sport Event Phase Mark Pos
1908 Summer Olympics 14 July 1908 Swimming (Aquatics) 400 metres Freestyle, Men Round One, Heat Six 5:42.2 1
1908 Summer Olympics 16 July 1908 Swimming (Aquatics) 400 metres Freestyle, Men Final 5:36.8 1
1908 Summer Olympics 21 July 1908 Swimming (Aquatics) 1,500 metres Freestyle, Men Round One, Heat Six 23:24.4 1
1908 Summer Olympics 23 July 1908 Swimming (Aquatics) 1,500 metres Freestyle, Men Semi-Finals, Heat One 22:54.0 1
1908 Summer Olympics 24 July 1908 Swimming (Aquatics) 4 × 200 metres Freestyle Relay, Men Semi-Finals, Heat Two 10:53.4 WR 1
1908 Summer Olympics 25 July 1908 Swimming (Aquatics) 1,500 metres Freestyle, Men Final 22:48.4 WR 1

Special Notes