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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Thomas Burgess

Thomas Burgess

In 1911 Thomas W. Burgess was the second man to swim the English Channel. It took him 22 hours and 35 minutes. It's not clear if this photo is from that event, but he's definitely not dressed for recreational swimming. Burgess also swam for Great Britain in the 1900 Summer Olympics. George Grantham Bain Collection.

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He swam 88 miles in his crossing due to currents - eating chicken legs & chocolate. An astonishing man.


What would happen if he went to a public beach wearing that back in the day when people wore their sunday best at the beach. Eye candy for da ladies.


For strangers (like me):
BVD=Bradley, Voorhees & Day (A trademark used for undershirts and underpants. This trademark sometimes occurs in print with a final 's. )


I think it looks like he got caught up in some sea kelp.


Nice package.


Tighty whiteys indeed! He does everything in his BVD's.

Call the Coast Guard

Mr Burgess is apparently involved in a plum-smuggling racket.

"Look at my junk!"

"Look at my junk!"

Thomas Burgess

He would have been around 32 yrs of age when he made his 14th attempt.I was told by my father that he ate Quaker Oats porridge mixed in milk and sugar. -- Gerald Morris, 72 yrs.

Impressive... swim, that is...

The pre-speedo suit aside, you have to admire the guy's tenacity... Captain Mathew Webb made it across the English Channel on his second attempt... but Thomas Burgess made it on his 14th attempt!!! Not many swimmers I've met could keep at it that long! Laugh at the suit if you want, but that is one tough swimmer.

That's The New Gucci Swimsuit

I think I saw it at Bergdorf's today.
Quite a look I must say!
I guess all the guys will be wearing those this summer...


These guys used to rub themselves down with Goose/Duck fat to act as an insulator to keep themselves warm.

Thomas Burgess

Laugh and make fun if you must, but, when did you last swim the English Channel? Go man go!

Speedos Would be An Improvement

Wow. I thought Speedos were bad. At least they have some pretense to fashion and style. What Mr. Burgess is wearing is basically a sling. One made of ugly (tie dye?) fabric at that.


Where is his bathing-costume?! Ladies, avert your eyes.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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