Attempt to swim from Portsmouth to Ryde

On Monday afternoon Professor Albert, the Scandinavian Swimming Champion, started from Portsmouth on a well-advertised attempt to swim from Portsmouth to Ryde. He had been challenged to a race by a Portsmouth professional, S Sargeant, but indignantly declined to make a race of it. This did not deter the Portsmouth man, however, and when the Scandinavian, at half-past 3, on Monday afternoon, made a dive from the South Parade Pier, Sargeant was there in a wherry with a waterman, and exactly five minutes after Albert had started, took a header from his wherry and started in pursuit of the Professor, who was swimming with a steady breast stroke and accompanied by two boats. Sargeant, however, started with a quick side stroke, and caught the Scandinavian champion three hundred yards from the Pier. Albert had just been affably declaring that he was “just getting right,” and wished “he had been born a fresh,” but on seeing his rival he stopped and warmly upbraided him for interfering with his attempt. Sargeant, however, heeded him not, but, swimming beautifully, went right over towards the Island shore. He was splendidly steered, which is more than can be said for Albert, and after they had been an hour in the water the Portsmouth man was more than a mile to the good, and rapidly drawing away. At half-past 4 Albert was nearing the Knoll and Bell Buoys, and there he stopped. He caught the tide running off the Spit, and in vain he tried to get across so that he might get the favouring current to carry him over towards Ryde. Twice he took doses of brandy in the water, but still he made no headway, and at 20 past 5, raising himself in the water, he warmly vituperated the men who were steering him in the boats. A general feeling was expressed on board the launch that his course had not been well chosen, and at length the Professor proclaimed “it vos damn humbug,” and he should give it up. And he did so. With great difficulty he was got on board one of the boats, and from there to a launch, where Dr A G Reid, who was in attendance, pronounced him as strong as when he went into the water. Be this as it may, during the last hour he had been in the water he had done little but drift, and the launch was hardly two miles from the South Parade Pier when he abandoned the attempt. Sargeant was by this time out of sight, and close up to Ryde Pier. He was then well underneath the shore, and, swimming down, he reached Ryde Pier shortly after 6 o’clock, having accomplished a remarkable feat.

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