Woman Swims The English Channel Essay

Submitted By cjakeh
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Woman Swims The English Channel

“People said women couldn’t swim the Channel, but I proved they could.”

- Gertrude Ederle

Born on October 23, 1905 in New York City, Gertrude Ederle is one of five children of Henry and Anna Ederle, German immigrants who owned a butcher shop on Manhattan's Upper West Side. At a young age Gertrude was passionate about swimming. She learned how to swim at the local public pool and at the New Jersey beach where her family spent summers. As a teen, Ederle left school to train as a competitive swimmer and joined the Women's Swimming Association. Competing locally, she had her first win at the age of 16. She is the first woman to swim across the English Channel. She is an American competition swimmer, Olympic champion, and world record-holder in five events. Ederle trained at the Women's Swimming Association (WSA), which produced such competitors as Ethelda Bleibtrey, Charlotte Boyle, Helen Wainwright, Aileen Riggin, Elanor Holm and Esther Williams. Ederle swam at the Olympic games in Paris, where her freestyle team won three medals. Ederle also won a gold medal in the 4 x 100 meter relay and a bronze in the 100 and 400 meter freestyle races. She also became the first woman to swim the length of New York Bay, breaking the previous men’s records by swimming from the New York Battery to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, in 7 hours 11 minutes. That same summer, Ederle made her first attempt at crossing the notoriously cold and choppy English Channel, but after eight hours and 46 minutes, her coach, Jabez Wolff, forced her to stop, out of concern that she was swallowing too much saltwater. Ederle disagreed and fired Wolff, replacing him with T.W. Burgess. Later on…