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Swimming Into History

Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim across the English Channel on August 16, 1926. (commons.wikipedia.com)
Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim across the English Channel on August 16, 1926. (commons.wikipedia.com)

On this day in 1926, Gertrude Ederle spent 14 hours and 31 minutes making history.

The 20-year-old from New York, who had won a gold and two bronze medals for the United States at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris, became the first woman to swim across the English Channel.

Not only that, she beat the times of the five men who had accomplished the feat before her by nearly two hours despite straying off-course in the rough water and turning the 21-mile swim into a 35-mile adventure.

Ederle, who was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1965, died in 2003, at the age of 98.

In Manhattan, the Gertrude Ederle Recreation Center, which includes an indoor pool, bears her name.

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