As long ago as April 16, 1789, the following appeared in The Times:
“FOUND, the 8th instant, two pigs, swimming in The Thames, near Westminster Bridge. Now safely lodged, awaiting a suitable reward, at the Swan, by Lambeth Church.”
Another example appeared in more recent times in the letters page of The Field:
“In ‘Answers to Correspondents’ (6 February) a reader asks whether pigs can swim. I also was under the impression that pigs cut their throats when swimming.
In February 1947 I was in a ship which had called at Aden, we had on board some ‘in-pig’ pigs for what was then Northern Rhodesia. About two hours before the ship was due to sail, one managed to get overboard and swam completely round the ship for about an hour before a boat could be lowered to pick it up. There was no sign of any kind that its throat had been cut. In fact, it was quite lively when being returned to its pen.
The following appeared in The Times in 1953:
“When Napoleon was about to cross a river on his fatal expedition to Russia, his horse is said to have stumbled and he to have exclaimed that it was a bad sign and that a Roman would have turned back. Animals, too often to their cost, have always been cast in leading roles in plays of superstition and, in the intervals, they are made the heroes of tall stories. One such, if an observant countryman is right, has as plot the alleged inability of a pig to swim. Its sharp trotter swings - so the story goes - in circular motion in the water and cuts its throat. This, the countryman cheerfully claims, did not happen to a sow who, awaiting her litter and finding her sty flooded, patiently swam round it unharmed until the rescue party arrived. All pig-lovers will hope that this was not an exception to the rule.”
In the same year, a reader sent the following letter to the editor which was published:
“Many years ago a young porker fell into a disused and bramble-covered well. The water level was some 10 ft. down; the water deep. It took us a good half-hour to borrow a ladder and come back with it. He was still swimming round and round.
Then we found that the well mouth was too narrow for a man to go down the ladder. The pig seemed doomed. Suddenly, my mate said: “Look!” Pig had his forelegs over one rung: his snout under the rung above. We pulled that ladder up slowly and carefully. Pig held on until he reached the top and was lifted off. Then he shook himself, grunted, and trotted off to the waiting herd - unscratched as to the throat and magnificently unperturbed by his adventure.
Mr WN Ewer, Great Missenden.”
Scotland was subject to extensive flooding in 1829 and several long distance swimming pigs were recorded saving themselves. One, only six months old, was seen to swim for a distance of four miles before finding dry land. Another group comprising three similarly aged pigs and a younger litter swam at least five miles before landing at Backhill near Aberdeen.
Another example of a swimming pig was witnessed in 1946 during the testing of the Atom-bomb on the Bikini atoll. A total of 3,352 animals were placed around the test site to guage the effects on creatures at various proximities to the detonation. Pig 311 was seen swimming calmly in the sea after the explosion and was duly rounded up and sent to Washington's Zoological Park where she led a normal existence with no outward signs of radiation sickness except she proved to be infertile.
The website of the Tamworth Breeders Club is now located at
Our own website is at
We also own the
website, and are tyring to thing of a suitable use for it. Perhaps we should start a commercial swimming-with-pigs adventure here in the British Midlands?
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