SKIPPER FRANCIS AT THAMES.
HOW HE SWAM THE - BltfSTOiEi CHANNEL. .
.ATHELETEI AND' ENTF^TAJNER.
"tofcipper" -Francis,' as. is well--■Jmown■.. throughout the nat.uloniil would is monv thiin an entertainer (in -which role h& ,s . app;ar:ng .at the ■Queen's Tteatre, Thames) lie is , a .champion athlete despite hk handicap .of a withered leg,, a physical diaatol- % of 25 years standing.., Slmce a, .child of .#, Mi" Francis has been a cripple, but in spite of this drawn 'Iback, he-has entered the arena oi "sport-and lias achieved high .distant -tion as an all round .•athlete, a re*.cord of which any physically perfect man the wodd over might well be proud. Ini < wreis-tiling, cy offing, runr •ning, footballing,-rPpIQ. playing, ;swimimng,«to., Skipper, Francis is an •adept and his meritorious performanr Icea in the United States "(where he represented ,tihe United Kingdom -a*i. the Cripples' Olympiad and /secured •'the nestling,, and.-running. chaaßpionships of the world) and in other parts, have stamped him as a reinairkable example* of .pluck: and perseverance. He put the seal to his fame by, swmi•■minir- the Bristol Channel from Pen : •■ arth to Newport, a distance ..of • about ID-miles, during the coldest summer ■■(known, in the record time of ihrs 32 •jinn*. .'': ■•"' -: •■; •"''■ '■■ : - In' ooTWftreafion with a Star reporter Mi- Francis. ■ a. cheery young man kfre* coanplexion, whose tongue feui-r^pleasantly of Wales, where he 27 years ago, gave an mfercstiirig story of his swimmnng featy ehowin<r how a na.turally- genial tem--per.Mnent, 1 in ciomibhuation with a preiit.y stirring will «nd plenty of -*griV has enabled .«/ cripple to win •:throiugh- aild make his mark*' atteanpts- 1 %vpt "iHuleitao performancesi never atr -itenipted by" the- aibl© bodied. ,-; xier a'tour of the United: Stiates 4where he wa« received by -President -.fe^evelt) the skipper returned to ■■•Enp'-and and at one© applied hmiself itlo riong distance swimming. "After swimming from JSTwvbridge tbi, New-- - poi-tv, (11 miles)' in -3hra-v-2min,, the Mossibilities of swimming the Bristol Channel claimed his atteiition, and ihe decided tb matk© the attempt des••pite the nasty tricSky run 'M the tide^ "I s'lected the P'marth-^ewpoa-b
course, said Mr Francis, and.after ar...duous training ' extending _ over 2 years, was keenly disappointed to atrike a phenomenally cold summer. < 'On ■ the day of tine race there was actually ice, and I didn't -think I'd be sable to "do it at all (this with a re-. Ib-ospeotiviei' shiver). Hbfwever I was ...'determined to toy and I entered the freezing gaiter a* the Femai-th pier," Before t&eeqiiarters: of an hour, the lolwer par* of my injured limb gave out, and was practically useless for - -the res* of the trip. Encouraged by • shouts from the speei&itroonsi, I plodded ''filonjf. The last; hour "Was terrible. I •was"chilled; numbed) and in. pain, Ibut stuck to it. My traineav I* 1- c---Cullim©re, cheered nie'pn, 'and so" I ' 'hung on tmtiil the Instl 15 minutes, when I teared the pilot sing, out, --''only anoitiher quarter,- mile." My •mind from tbait' time Was a blank, I
Bwam mechianically and didn't even
iremembeir landing. I wasn't! eten sure v.Jof success tirttdl the cheers of the . crowd assua-ed me and I knew I had - won through. Thus ended the hardest gwim of my life. . * Mr Fiianois laughingly said he had
Jus &yo on the Englissh Chiaiinel swim. It may be metiitiioned' he holds the ■Roila.T pife Saving'.Soicjicifcy's;^ and St. 'John Ambulance Society's medallion and ccirtiiiieafci, and is nn official referee, for. Rugby, Sdccer, boxing-, .and wrestling. Also he'is a'sing'er of no mean ability and possesses a pleasingtear itone v^ice. The Well known composer, Mr AL E. SaivlagG, is decfioat ing a waltz to the gentleman, under th? tittle of "rrhe Sfcipper Waltz." "Now, I thirik..that's all," concluded M;f "Francis. "Oh, yes, I'm a strict feetefallei', but I'm no wowser, and
enjoy a cigar." •"Mir brands is. appearing at the ■Queen's Theiarbre describing the filmed st>rv of his charii\el swim, an<T
•torain>ing operations,-a very initteresting * subject,' and is also; sin^ng well. " There was a large audience last night ■ 'tb welcome the" "skipper," who will appear again to-night. Otherpictures show the athlete In Various fielcl sports, demonstrating decisively hisi ■prowess in all soirts of sport. The entertainment'provided, in coaijunciticta • with a new programme a.nd choice ' -music, is well worth the attention' of
patrons-, Skipper Francis, is-a host in 'iimself. . .