Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Spencer Captures Swim - 4 Aug 1941

Salt Lake Tribune - August 4, 1941


Spencer Captures Swim


Victor Only Man to Finish Race - Waves, Wind Cut Down Starting Field by Jimmy Hodgson


Orson Spencer once more proved his right to the title of "Utah's foremost swimmer" Sunday when he conquered the treacherous waves of Great Salt lake to win the unique salt water marathon paddle for the sixth year.

It took Spencer five hours, seven minutes and 22 seconds to cover the 8.2 miles from Antelope island to Black Rock beach, one of the slowest times ever recorded in the swim, but that's what made the performance so brilliant.

"Boy, that feels good"...That's what Orson Spencer
had to say as he washed away the salt gathered on
his long trek through Great Salt Lake.  Spencer was
the only finisher.
Except for the first hour of the swim, during which time the weather was perfect, the paddlers were battling not only the briny and bitter water, but also a powerful wind which whipped up mountainous waves that covered the swimmers time after time and added to their peril.

Against such conditions records and times were out of the question, the problem was whether the swimmers could even stay in the water.

Six paddlers started the race, but the waves took a heavy toll and the mechanical-stroking Spenver was the only one who finished the long course.

Young Ned Winder dropped out first and then big Ed Watson became sick and had to be taken out.  Ken Lyman, last year's winner, was pushing Spencer for the lead, but when the waves reached their peak proportions he decided it was foolish to continue.

Perry Leavitt was taken from the water next when he became violently sick and then big Wayne Christensen of Ogden was forced out whe he got a mouthful of the strangling brine.  Christensen covered nearly six of the eight plus mile course.

Officials suggested that Spencer give it up with the waves making it extremely difficult to even keep him in check, but the persistent paddler continued to the finish line to receive the acclaim of a crowd of more than 500 fans.

Stops Frequently


During the last two miles, Spencer had to stop frequently to have the salt washed from his face with cool, fresh water, and he set a slow pace, but he reached his goal after the most trying conditions that have ever confronted the paddlers in the long swim.

It was the sixth victory for Spencer in the salt marathon.  He won the race from Antelope island to Saltair in 1930,1931 and 1932, setting a record of two hours and two minutes for the course.

He won the Antelope island to Black Rock swim in 1937 and 1938.  His time of three hours 40 minutes and 52 seconds is still the record for present course.  It was set in 1937.

After completing the grind Sunday, Spencer said that this year's swim was the toughest he had ever experienced.  "But I wanted to finish it for mother -- it's her birthday today and she's my coach and trainer.  I wanted to come in for her."

Justly Proud


Spencer's mother, Mrs. D. G. Spencer, was at the pier to meet her son, and she was justly proud.  It took plenty of stamina, courage and ability to swim eight miles in the boiling salty lake Sunday.

Orson received a beautiful trophy from James Latses of Black Rock beach for his victory, and all the contestants and officials were dined royally after the race as guests of Latses.

George Knepp was in charge of the boats following the swimmers, and the boatmen did a fine job in checking up and keeping in close contact with the struggling paddlers.

Officials were Dr. Munn Q Cannon, chairman of the A.A.U. swimming committee; Denny Ausherman, Don Reddish, Rex Sutherland, John Neff, Ward Armstrong and Dr. Ralph Cornwall.
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