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Gertrude Ederle, the First Woman To Swim the English Channel

In 1926, Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel surpassing the mark of the men who had achieved it until then.

The Woman Post | Catalina Mejia

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Ederle was born in New Jersey in 1905 and died on November 30, 2003. She is one of the most famous American Sports personages of the 1920s. From a very young age, Ederle had a strong passion for swimming, which was reflected years later when she became a champion of the eight-beat crawl and held 29 world amateur swimming records between 1921 and 1925.  The year 1922 had a special meaning for Gertrude since she broke seven records in one afternoon at Brighton Beach, New York. But that’s not all,  at the 1924 Olympic Games in Paris,  she made part of the US team that won a gold medal in the 4 * 100-meter freestyle relay. She also obtained bronze in the 100-meter and 400-meter freestyle events. It is worth noting that in 1925 Ederle made a first and unsuccessful attempt to swim the English Channel.

The term self-improvement accurately describes the personal and professional spheres of Ederle’s life. During her early childhood, Gertrude recovered from measles and an accident on a lake before she knew how to swim. After the incident on the water, a doctor even recommended her not to swim, but she continued to follow her calling for the sport. By swimming front crawl, Gertrude took 14 hours and 31 minutes to reach the distance that exists between France and England, beating the mark of the 5 men who had swum the English Channel. The English Channel, also known as French la Manche, is the narrow arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the Southern coast of England from the Northern coast of France.

It was until 1961, that another woman beat her world record by crossing the channel In less time and swimming a shorter distance.  Her great achievement of setting a world record made her an important woman in the history of America,  and she was even invited to the White House.

Despite her impressive achievements in swimming, the sequelae of measles which had left her partially deaf, and a tragic fall in 1933, led her to retire from swimming. However, her retirement couldn’t stop her from swimming at New York’s World Fair in 1939 in front of her audience. She also became a swimming teacher for deaf children at a school in New York. The story of Gertrude Ederle stands today as an example of perseverance and self-improvement. She is also remembered as a person who destroyed her limits and had a strong passion for service and desired to help others achieve their potential as well. Her name is more relevant than ever during August since it was on August 6, 1926, when she swam the distance between France and England!