What is the real price of fame and success? Sometimes it is more than meets the eye.On more than one occasion Hilda James managed to hide in the pool changing rooms and avoid detection. The year was 1915 and the skinny 11 year old had only been sent to join the swimming class to avoid Religious Education because her parents didn't approve of the lessons.

Hilda didn't want to learn to swim. Eventually she was found out and taken to join her class in the water. By 1920 she was at the Olympic Games in Antwerp triumphantly winning a Silver Medal for Great Britain in the relay final. These days, family support, sponsorship and ultimate stardom are as good as guaranteed for the talented. A hundred years ago things were very different. As she became a superstar, would Hilda and her coach manage to outwit her increasingly difficult Parents to reach the 1924 Games in Paris, where she was tipped to win three gold medals?

Read Hilda's story on Kindle available from the kindle download page

Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge
TWO RECORDS FROM ONE RACE CARINTHIA PUBLICITY PHOTO 1925 HILDA RECORD PENNANTS FIRST FEW BADGES - 1917

Also pictured is one of the three surviving small gold medals awarded by the English ASA for the same purpose.

one of a series taken at chelsea piers, manhattan, shortly before departing on the 1925 raymond-whitcomb round-the-word winter cruise 

The four surviving pennants (out of six) issued by World governing body FINA in recognition of a World Record.   the first few swimming badges on a knitted costume which was “tight, scratchy and horribly revealing, especially when wet”
HILDA 1922 COSTUME BREASTPLATE GARSTON JUNIORS - 1918 BRIGHTON BEACH LIDO
 
AUGUST 1922 BROOKLYN, NYC
1924 TROPHY COLLECTION
The original, now very frail stitched breastplate worn when part of Team GB winning the 4x100 m Freestyle Silver Medal at Antwerp, 1920.

 

a chilly day outside coventry baths - bill howcroft (right) on tour with his garston juniors
back row - alan mann, willie joy, austin rawlinson, harry phillips, willie owens.
middle row - margery finch, may spencer, lily bennett, charlotte radcliffe, hilda james.
front row – robert mckenzie, james edwardson, joe crowther

  the end of a stunning 9 year amateur career, hilda just before turning professional

lost olympics author ian mcallister with his mother and editor, sheila mcallister