Manchester’s Victoria Baths: the swimmers who defied sexism and angered Hitler


It’s not just the Baths themselves which are legendary, though – some of its swimmers went on to become household names.

John Besford had the notable claim of having caused Adolf Hitler to have a tantrum.

“John attended the closest primary school to Victoria Baths – Plymouth Grove School. He was a very accomplished swimmer and trained and competed at Victoria Baths,” says Wright.

This Olympic Swimmer angered then Chancellor of Germany Adolf Hitler when he won the 100 metre backstroke title at the 1934 European Championship in Magdeburg.

The story goes that Hitler had assumed that German swimmer, Ernst Kuppers, would win, and had commissioned a magnificent trophy. The trophy was made of bronze, shaped like an eagle, and weighed over 50 kilograms.

When Hitler discovered that Kuppers had not won the race, he stormed out of the stadium and refused to give Besford the trophy.

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Photo by fussy onion

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Production engineer and certified swim coach. Full-time IT consultant, spare-time swimming aficionado. 2 sons, 2 daughters and a wife. President of the Faroe Islands Swimming Association. Likes to run :-)

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