Under the headline ‘Tommy Burns Again – Sensational Dive from Egremont’ the Liverpool Echo (22nd November 1892) suggested that local celebrity had superhuman powers which enabled him to survive freezing conditions which would have been enough ‘to kill most people with scanty clothes on’.
The newspaper described how Tommy had made a spectacular dive at Egremont on the Wirral:
This afternoon Tommy Burns, of Runcorn and Forth Bridge fame, dived off the top of Egremont Lighthouse bridge, and swam ashore, after an exciting performance, in the presence of a large number of spectators.
Tommy, with his usual alertness, succeeded in disarming all official opposition. He and a number of his friends gathered at a tradesman’s shop in the neighbourhood of the pier, and afterwards proceeded to the Egremont Ferry Hotel where he disrobed.
Tommy rigged himself up in a garb which was half sea-faring, and partly agricultural. He passed the turnstile unchallenged, and proceeded along the pier without molestation, though followed closely by a policeman, who apparently had doubts as to the legality of the proceeding.
As soon as “Tommy” reached the lighthouse arch he clambered up the ladder, and was in a few seconds standing by the apex. He waved his straw hat triumphantly, and then took a “header” into the water.
Tommy, once in the water, quickly divested himself of his disguise and blossomed forth in the full tight champion water suit which he dons on such occasions.
He made a considrable detour in the water, which was very cold, and after a long swim, met the punt of Mr. J. Gribbon, of New Brighton, who had come up specially to watch the progress of affairs.
By this time, a large crowd had gathered and some people became anxious when Tommy put one leg in the boat and pretended to be struggling to get on board. Suddenly, he almost vaulted aboard and ‘drifted before the winds’ to the shore where he returned to the Ferry Hotel. The Echo report continued:
As an exhibition of physical endurance and defiance of the ordinary laws of nature, the display was marvellous.
The wind was piercing enough to kill most people with scanty clothes on and it could only be owing to his fine physique and training that “Tommy” was able to defy the elements.
On returning to the hotel the swimmer had quite an ovation. It is his intention shortly to proceed to Chicago, where he proposes to give the Yankees “a taste of his quality.”