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Inspiring Canadians - In Sport and Life

Honoured Member

GEORGE HODGSON

Inducted in 1955

Member Details

Date of Birth: October 12, 1893
Place of Birth: Montreal, Quebec
Date of Passing: May 1, 1983
Sport: Swimming
Member Category: Athlete

Career Highlights

1911

Empire Trophy, mile

1912

Olympic gold medal, 400m (world record)

Olympic gold medal, 1,500m (world record)

World record - 1,000m, mile

Honoured Member GEORGE HODGSON
Inspire

Story

Coming from a family rich in sporting tradition, George Hodgson excelled in the relatively young sport of competitive swimming. His accomplishments on the international stage, however, have ensured that, to this day, he is still considered one of the greatest Canadian swimmers of all time. Born in Montreal, Hodgson was nurtured by accomplished athletes. His father, one of five brothers who excelled at hockey and lacrosse, was a member of the famous Canadian lacrosse team that toured England in 1878, while his uncle was on a Stanley Cup-winning team from the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association. Thanks to the opportunities afforded by his family, Hodgson gained membership in the famed Montreal AAA and had access to one of the best indoor swimming facilities in the country. He rose to prominence in 1911 when, as a 17-year-old, he represented Canada at the "Festival of Empire" Games, a sporting celebration of the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary. Hodgson entered the mile race, even though he had never covered the distance previously. He won the race, in the process defeating the world-record holder, Britain's Sid Battersby. This success made his inclusion on the 1912 Olympic team a fait accompli. He raced in the 400m and 1,500m freestyle, winning gold in both events and setting two new world records. In an unusual turn, during the 1,500m race Hodgson was timed at 1,000m and kept swimming past 1,500m to a full mile where he was timed again. He was credited with another two world record times. These records stood until 1924, when they were broken by the great Johnny Weismuller, and it would be another 60 years before another Canadian captured Olympic gold, when Alex Baumann and Victor Davis accomplished the feat in Los Angeles in 1984. Hodgson returned from the Olympics to enter McGill University. He represented the school both in swimming and water polo before graduating in 1916. He served in the Royal Air Canadian Force with distinction and was awarded the Air Force Cross in 1918. Returning from the war out of swimming shape, Hodgson joined the Canadian entry for the 1920 Olympics in Antwerp. Though he failed to win a medal, and he admitted years later that he was "happy to just finish the races," his records from the 1912 Games remained the standard for years to come.


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