Our recent experience of remote working, meetings, and so-cial lives being conducted via Zoom and other digital plat-forms, has caused many of us to reconsider our perceptions of time and space. A similar epochal shift was taking place by the turn of the nineteenth century, as emerging electronic means of communication were changing the way ordinary people experienced time and space as ‘[t]he sense of the pre-sent … expanded spatially to create the vast shared experi-ence of simultaneity.’ (Kern, 1983).
From its formation in 1886, swimming’s governing body, the Amateur Swimming Association (ASA), sought to eradicate pro-fessional swimming, imposing its definition of amateurism, and rigorously enforcing its prohibition on amateurs competing against professionals.
By 1901 although proscribed by amateur rules, intense public interest and increasing demand for a match between the two respective champions, the amateur J. A. ‘Jack’ Jarvis, and the professional J. J. ‘Joey’ Nuttall, was such that it threatened the legitimacy of the ASA’s ruling.
On the evening of 11 September 1901, Jarvis and Nuttall swam for their respective amateur and professional 500 yards championship titles. Although held in baths 180 miles apart, the shared experience of simultaneity created a ‘third space’ in which the two men were brought together outside the conven-tional frameworks of time and space and the constraints of the amateur/professional divide.
This paper explores the material and representational spaces and meanings of the 1901 Jarvis-Nuttall ‘match’ created by the press.
Geoff Swallow lives and works in St Ives, Cornwall. He is working towards the completion of a part-time PhD at Man-chester Metropolitan University on mobility, modernity and identity on the West of England circuit of annual swimming matches, 1863-1913. His research interests include the social and cultural history of sea bathing, surfing, and water polo
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