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healy : tuppa tup-pala, 1913 
Cecil Healy : Tuppa Tup-pala, 1913

Extract from
Healy, Cecil: Tuppa Tup-pala - Otherwise Known as the Crawl Stroke.
The Sunday Times, Sydney, 1913, page?.

Introduction.
An authorative and eridite analysis of the development of the Crawl technique that repudiates the contention that the stroke was "invented" by Western exponents, principaly members of the Cavill family in Australia circa 1900.

For an earlier exposition of the Trudgeon stroke, see:
1902 J. A. Jarvis : The Trudgen Stroke.
Extracts from The Art of Swimming, Hutchinson and Co., Paternoster Row, London, 1902.

This document was provided courtesy of Ray Moran at the Australian Surfing Museum and Manly SLSC.


Page ?

TUPPA TUP-PALA
OTHERWISE KNOWN AS THE CRAWL STROKE.
A STYLE OF SWIMMING PECULIAR TO THE SOUTH SEAS.
A NEW AND STARTLING VERSION OF ITS ORIGIN.
FOR THE "SUNDAY TIMES" BY CECIL HEALY.


Mr. Cecil Healy, who gives his opinions here for the "Sunday Times" readers, is the man most qualified in the whole world to speak on the theory and practices of the crawl stroke.
He is one of the pioneers of it in Australia, and has been the means of introducing it and producing champions in Germany, belgium, France, Italy and all over the Continent, as well as in Australia, and for six years was un-beaten over the 100 yards in this continent.

It is with reluctance that I give my opinions on the origin and developmentof the crawl stroke.
In my opinion there is not the slightest shadow of doubt that the Cavill family were the first to demonstate the potentialities of it as a means of attaining speed in the water, and they were the first to introduce it into competitive swimming and bring it under the notice and attention of the civilised world.
But I cannot be reconciled to the idea that they were the actual inventors of the principle of swimming in this fashion because there is ample evidence to prove that it was
IN VOGUE AMOUNGST THE SOUTH SEA ISLAND NATIVES
as far back as the memory of some of the oldest traders will take them, and in all probability has been used by them in more or less crude form for generations past.

In any discussion of the the subject, the first thing to arrive at what really is the difference between the "crawl" and, say, the "trudgeon" stroke.
To my mind it merely applies to the leg movement, and the position in which the body is held, and that the method of using the arms does not affect the fundamental principle of any stroke at all.
Now, for instance, in

THOUSANDS OF DIFFERENT WAYS,
or, rather, variations, in the way of using the arms in the "trudgeon," or double overarm, or, for that matter, any other stroke.
In fact it might be said that no two swimmers in the world actually swim any given stroke alike in every particular.
Yet they all come under the one heading, and rightly so, because althoughthe details are different, the principle nethertheless is the same in each case.
Arguing on this basis, I maintain that the stroke which others and myself swim to-day over short or long distances, although it differs in many respects from the way Dick Cavill swam, is undoubtedly of the same "specie," and cannot be classed other than the same category.
The crawl stroke, to-day, in its perfected form is perhaps as much unlike the style of the Cavills in the early days as the modern motor is to the first car turned out.

Alec Wickham, the well know and popular Rubiana native, who, as anyone who has anything to do with him will agree, is an intelligent and truthful natured boy, not given to romancingor handling the truth carelessly, has often assured me that all boys and girls, including his brothers and sisters in the Solomon Islands, swim in the same way that he does - that is to say, they "crawl."
His father, a retired trader, has also informed me that it is called there "Tuppa-tup-pala," and as long as he can remember the stroke was always used amoungst tribes who inhabit that part of the world.
In fact they do not know any other way to swim except by means of the breast stroke.

When in Stockholm I questioned Kahanamoku, the marvelous Hawaiian, as to how he came to swim in the way he does.
"Did anyone teach you?" I asked, and he seemed amused at the enquiry.
He distinctly told me that he had never received tuition at anyone's hands, and, moreover, it had come quite natural to him.
I watched him scores of times in the water, and never detected him using any other method.
I should not at all been suprised if he is unable to kick scissor fashion, or "Trudgeon-wise."

This information can be easily verified in other quarters, and as far as I can see it practically does away with the belief that the Cavills were the "inventors" of the method of propulsion known throughout the civilised world to-day as the "crawl" stroke.
I certainly admit that they were the "discoverers" in the same sense that Fred. Williams discovered how to "shoot the breakers" by watching a South Sea native do it, or that Captain Cook discovered Australia for the white men.
They never invented their new found things anymore than did the Cavills, in swimming in the way they did, hit upon something unknown to mankind previously.
I do not think we can get away from the fact, much as it "hurts" that the crawl stroke is really

NOTHING MORE THAN A "GLORIFIED DOG PADDLE."
It is to the "dog paddle" what baseball is to the old game of rounders.
Another arguement against the theory that the principle of the stroke was concieved in the brains of the Cavills is the fact that the first time most youngsters are put in the water their limbs prescribe their movements.
Many children who are not properly instructed swim "doggy" all their lives.
But, as everyone knows, the idea of swimming in this way was denounced and ridiculed, and children were "spanked" by their parents if they were not able to get out of doing it.
This was before the Cavills "discovered" and populatised the improved and up-to-date edition, and gave a practical demonstration of its possibilities.
The whole history of its origin, growth, and development amounst whitemen supplies another instance of "nothing succeeds like success."
Alick Wickham's brother, who was a pupil at Newinton College, swam the stroke over in Balmain at least 17 years ago, Alick tells me.
But he had not the "hall mark" of a champion.
He was unknown to the public.
He had no reputation in their eyes.
Therefore he was allowed to go his way, unheeded, just the same way as other natives who came over here in sailing ships and dived and swam about the harbour ocassionally were (sic)
No one bothered their heads about what particular way they swam.
it was quite a different matter, however, when the Cavills adopted anything with which the general public were not familiar.
The limelight gleamed upon them.
They were the heroes ot the natatorial world, and set the fashion in the way of strokes, and so when Dick utilised it in a championship and scored a sensational finish it straightaway brought the stroke into prominance.
It started a "rush," like a new find on a goldfield.
And all and sundry commenced to pracicse it, and literally fell over themselves in their eagerness to adopt the principle.
Other brains were brought to bear on it, and just as two heads are generally better than one, so did improvements and developments make their appearance in rapid succession, until we find its range and effectiveness as a speed stroke in salt water increased from a few yards to three miles, as witness Longworth's triumph last year, when he established a record for this latter distance.

HOW I CAME TO LEARN IT.

In the late nineties (1890s) nearly all my spare time was spent in Farmer's Woolloomooloo Baths.
I was a protege of that great enthusiast and instructor, George Farmer.
I well remember him hailing me from the platform one morning, and saying "Cec, try Cavill's new splash stroke."
I asked him what it was like, and he thereupon illustrated it with his arms.
He had seen it used once, and then for a matter of a few yards only, but was struck with the idea.
I recollect I thought it a "funny" way of swimming, and more of a joke than anything else, used to splash my way back to the steps after taking a dive from the board, every now and then receiving some word of enouragement from Farmer to persevere.
As a matter of fact, it was months after the time I am speaking about that I acually saw Dick Cavill using it.
Then I devoted all my energy, thought, and perserverance to finding out some way to overcome the breathing difficulty; and one day hit on the knack.
Until I could breathe regularly I argued with myself that it was only a freak stroke and unnatural, despite the fact that the great Dick swam with his head submerged for several strokes before replenishiing his lungs.
A little previous to this, Alick Wickham had made his appearance, and, lo and behold! he was a finished "crawler."
His method and action were much neater and graceful.
His legs were kept under water more, and he kicked slightly differently, but still on the same principle.
Who taught him?
The Cavills?
Certainly not.
He could only speak a word or two of English at this time, and was exceedingly shy.
He was atrue son of nature, and

SWAM ONE OF NATURE'S STROKES
handed down to him from his forefathers, viz., the "crawl".
He did not know how to take a header then, and we had to teach him both that and hot to "trudge."

Judging according to the presumptive and other evidence bearing on thye subject, I am forced to the conclusion that the application for "Patent Rights," made out on their behalf, cannot be entertained; a fact which I, as Australian born and bred, deeply regret.

THESE TWO DIAGRAMS BY MR. BEN JORDAN, GIVE THE GENERAL PRINCIPLES
OF THE CRAWL STROKE.




THE TOP ONE SHOWS THE RIGHT ARM AND LEFT LEG READY TO STRIKE.




THE BOTTOM PICTURE SHOWSTHE LEFT ARM AND THE RIGHT FOOT JUST COMING UP OUT OF THE WATER AT THE COMMENCEMENT OF THE STROKES.

Healy, Cecil: Tuppa Tup-pala - Otherwise Known as the Crawl Stroke.
The Sunday Times, Sydney, 1913, page?.

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home catalogue history references appendix

Geoff Cater (2007) : Cecil Healy : Tuppa Tup-pala, 1913.
http://www.surfresearch.com.au/1913_Healy_Tuppa_Tup_pala.html