‘Row, My Son…’

Here is a photograph of one of the successful Leander eights Harcourt ‘Tarka’ Gold coached, the 1912 Olympic champions. From the stern: coxswain Henry Wells, stroke Philip Fleming, 7 Alister Graham Kirby, 6 Arthur Stanley Garton, 5 James Angus Gillan, 4 Ewart Douglas Horsfall, 3 Leslie Graham Wormald, 2 Sidney Ernest Swann, bow Edgar R. Burgess. In the final, Leander beat New College, Oxford, for the Olympic gold medal.

No. 6, Stanley Garton, is the famous ‘letter writer’ whom I have written about before. No. 2, Sidney Swann, is the only Cambridge man in the crew. Swann came from a rowing family. His father, Rev. Sydney Swann, rowed for Cambridge in the Boat Race in 1883-1885. According to Susan Saint Sing, in her The Wonder Crew (2008), when Sydney Swann Jr., entered Trinity Hall, he sent a letter to his father asking what he should do on his spare time? Swann Sr., sent him a telegram back with the short reply: “AT THE HALL, THEY ROW.” And so he did, becoming one of the greatest English oarsmen before the First World War.


  1. Dear Sir
    I hope you are well.
    I am currently writing an article about the Reverend Sidney Swann.

    I was hoping to write about him for a local newspaper in the Isle of Man, where I live, and Rev Swann was born.

    I was just wondering if you had any other information about him, or photographs we could use.

    I thank you for your time.

    Best wishes.

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