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29 October 2014

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May 2003
Let's blow Torpedo Tom's trumpet
Tom Blower
Tom Blower with one of his many trophies

He was as famous as Brian Clough and Torvill and Dean in the 1930's and 40's.

But today there's little to remind us of Torpedo Tom Blower.

Great Nottinghamians
Blower conquers the North Channel
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He was 23 when he smashed the English Channel world record.

He was the first person to swim the Northern Channel between Ireland and Scotland.

He was a sales rep at Players in Nottingham then moved to Dartmouth as part of his work.
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The River Trent might slowly be being cleaned up but I doubt there are many people who'd be keen to take a lengthy swim in it.

But in the 1930's Nottingham's Tom Blower was a familiar figure swimming up and down.

The Trent by the Meadows was Tom's training ground.

And Tom Blower trained just as much as latter day sporting favourites, Torvill and Dean, who used to practice at the old ice stadium.

Tom Blower
Tom Blower with even more of his trophies

Tom was a long-distance swimmer and a world record breaker at the age of 23.

He earned the nickname "Torpedo" for swimming the English Channel in 13 hours and 29 minutes.

At the time he broke the previous record by a staggering 23 minutes.

Yes, Tom Blower was the long distance swimming equivalent of Paula Radcliffe.

But today there's little to remind us of his achievements. There is a plaque at the John Carroll Leisure Centre in Radford but it's in need of some tender loving care.

Relatives of Tom are launching a campaign to increase his profile. They'd also like to hear from any relations in Notts and around they world. They believe there are some in Canada.

When he attended Berridge Road school he was actually nicknamed "Carthorse" because he was so slow in swimming sprints.

Speed might not have been his forte, endurance was. He once undertook a 30-hour non-stop marathon at Victoria Baths in Sneinton where he swam 2,664 lengths.

Tom Blower's achievements
Born in Hyson Green
Became the first non-Lancastrian to win the ten-mile race across Morecambe Bay. The weather was so bad he was the only person to finish.
Becomes a world record holder when he swims the English Channel in 13 hours 29 minutes. He beats the old record by 23 minutes.
Serves with the Royal Navy in the Second World War and rescues a drowning swimmer for which he won a Royal Humane Society medal.
Becomes the first man to swim the northern Irish Sea in a time of 15 hours, 26 minutes.
Joins the short list of people to have swum the Channel both ways.
Failed in an attempt to swim the Channel bothways, non-stop because of fog and strong currents.
Died after moving to Dartmouth (he worked for Players). He suffered a heart attack. He's buried in Bulwell cemetery.


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