You Are Here > > > Hilda James

Hilda James

Full name: Hilda Marjorie James (-McAllister)
Nickname(s): The English Comet
Gender: Female
Born: April 27, 1904 in Warrington, Warrington, Great Britain
Died: July 27, 1982 in Birkenhead, Merseyside, Great Britain
Affiliations: Garston SC, Liverpool (GBR)
Country: GBR Great Britain
Sport: Swimming

Medals: 1 Silver (1 Total)


Hilda James set five world records over distances between 220y and 440y freestyle and also broke countless British records. She won the National 100y and 220y titles in 1921 and was a double winner again in 1924 when she won the 220y and the inaugural 440y title She was considered to be one of the best European swimmers at the time, and was also a good synchronized swimmer. She was also a fine long-distance swimmer and twice won the National Long-Distance Championship on the Thames, and was the 1923 winner of the 8km race on the Seine in Paris. She is credited with introducing the six-beat crawl stroke to England, a measure which enabled swimmers to move much faster across the water. It certainly worked for her because she held every British freestyle record, 100y to one mile.

Despite being a potential winner of three gold medals at the 1924 Olympics, she announced in December 1923 that she did not wish to represent Great Britain at the forthcoming Games because: “She had been subjected to unfair criticism, unfair treatment and boycott by certain officials in the swimming world.” In 1925 James was invited by the South Africa Amateur Swimming Union to participate in a demonstration tour and a series of galas to promote swimming in South Africa and the former Rhodesia. For the next five years, she worked on cruise ships of the Cunard Line, where she met her future husband William McAllister. They married in 1930 and had one son. James was posthumously inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 2016.


Games Age City Sport Event Team NOC Rank Medal
1920 Summer 15 Antwerpen Swimming Women's 300 metres Freestyle Great Britain GBR 4 h1 r1/2
1920 Summer 15 Antwerpen Swimming Women's 4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay Great Britain GBR 2 Silver

Women's 300 metres Freestyle

Games Age City Sport Country Phase Unit Rank T
1920 Summer 15 Antwerpen Swimming Great Britain Semi-Finals Heat One 4 5:07.2

Women's 4 × 100 metres Freestyle Relay

Games Age City Sport Team NOC Phase Unit Rank
1920 Summer 15 Antwerpen Swimming Great Britain GBR Final Standings 2
id: 47,067