When somebody tells me I cannot do something, that’s when I do it
Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to cross the English Channel in 1926, beating the men’s record by two hours. Abandoning the standard swimming costume of the day, a wool dress, stockings, and shoes she designed a lighter, two-piece swimsuit cut from the fabric of a standard one-piece and her own goggles in a controversial move.
The City of New York held its first ticker-tape parade to honor a woman. She also held world records in five different events and won one gold and two bronze medals in the 1924 Olympics. Dubbed as “Queen of the Waves” and “America’s Best Girl”, Ederle paved the way for generations of female athletes by challenging societal narratives of women as the weaker sex.
An ear infection from the swim worsened her childhood hearing problems and she became deaf. This inspired her to become a swim instructor for deaf children at the Lexington School for the Deaf.
Books and resources:
- Dahlberg, Ward, and Greene, “America’s Girl: The Incredible Story of How Swimmer Gertrude Ederle Changed the Nation”, 2009
- Sue Macy, “Trudy’s Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm”, 2019