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Passing of First Woman to Swim The English Channel

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  • ahelee_sf
    This morning I have been imagining The Supreme welcoming the soul of one of the all time great champion-heros of women and women s sports - Gertrude Ederle.
    Message 1 of 2 , Dec 1, 2003
      This morning I have been imagining The Supreme welcoming the soul of
      one of the all time great champion-heros of women and women's sports -
      Gertrude Ederle.

      Miss Ederle was the first woman to swim The English Channel in 1926.
      Her record time of 14 hours, 31 minutes stood for 24 years.

      It has always been my hope to meet her in person. There are not many
      sports in which the pioneers are still living. Sadly for me, Miss
      Ederle's family kept her very secluded and undisturbed in her final
      years. But perhaps it was also her wish...
      Another surprise for me was that Gertrude Ederle's home was located
      in Queens, not very far at all from our tennis court, up until the
      early 90s. So close and yet so far away!

      How this woman has inspired so many swimmers to cross The English
      Channel - and women to conquer so many of life's challenges. God only
      knows... such a significant achievement in the history of sports and
      for the progress of all women.
      Heartfelt Gratitude, Love, and Admiration For You Gertrude Ederle,
      _
      Ahelee
      San Francisco

      Aticles at the following links (cut and paste):

      http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/01/sports/othersports/01EDER.html?
      ex=1070859600&en=c7fc899c623f466f&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE

      http://story.news.yahoo.com/newstmpl=story&u=/ap/20031201/ap_on_re_us/
      obit_ederle

      New York Times Text below:
      Gertrude Ederle, the First Woman to Swim Across the English Channel,
      Dies at 98
      By RICHARD SEVERO

      Published: December 1, 2003


      Gertrude Ederle, who was called "America's best girl" by President
      Calvin Coolidge in 1926 after she became the first woman to swim
      across the English Channel, died yesterday at a nursing home in
      Wyckoff, N.J. She was 98.

      Ederle was a symbol of the Roaring 20's, a decade given as much to
      heroics as to materialism. For a time, her accomplishment put her in
      the public's affection at the level of Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey, Bill
      Tilden and Red Grange.

      Ederle did not sustain the lofty place in history of another hero of
      the 1920's, Charles A. Lindbergh, who crossed the Atlantic a year
      after her historic swim, or of the golden athletes who appeared
      regularly before the public and kept their fame alive. But her feat,
      which she did only once and under horrendous conditions, made a
      memorable contribution in an age when many found it difficult to take
      female athletes seriously.

      They had to take Ederle seriously, because she beat the records of
      the five men who had previously made the swim from 1875 to 1923.

      Years later, after other men and women had successfully swum the
      Channel, Grover A. Whalen, New York City's official greeter, said
      that of all the celebrities he had welcomed to town, he could not
      recall one that made the impact of Ederle at her homecoming.

      Ederele was born Oct. 23, 1905, in New York City, one of four
      daughters and two sons of Henry Ederle, a butcher and provisioner,
      and his wife, Anna. Her father owned a summer cottage in Highlands,
      N.J., and she learned to swim on the Jersey Shore.

      She called herself a "water baby" and said that over the years, she
      was "happiest between the waves." But she developed a hearing problem
      when she was 5, after a bout with the measles. "The doctors told me
      my hearing would get worse if I continued swimming, but I loved the
      water so much, I just couldn't stop," she said.

      In the early 1920's, as a competitive swimmer, she set women's world
      freestyle records and American freestyle records for various
      distances from 100 to 800 meters. In a single afternoon in 1922, she
      broke seven such records at Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Between 1921
      and 1925, she held 29 amateur national and world records.

      In what might have been an anticipation of her Channel swim, she swam
      more than 16 miles through tricky currents between the Battery and
      Sandy Hook, N.J.

      In 1924, she was a member of the United States team that competed in
      the Olympics in Paris. She won a gold medal as part of the 400-meter
      freestyle relay, and she won the bronze medal in the 100 and 400
      individual freestyle events. It was no small accomplishment. She was
      swimming with an injured knee and, together with the other female
      athletes from the United States, she had an added handicap of
      fatigue. They were put up in hotels far away from the center of Paris
      because United States officials did not want them contaminated with
      what they saw as the city's bohemian morality. Ederle and her
      teammates had to travel five to six hours each day to practice in the
      Olympic pool.

      After Paris, she began to focus on the English Channel. The first
      person to swim it was Matthew Webb of England, who in 1875 made it in
      21 hours 45 minutes. Of the four other men who succeeded before
      Ederle, none were faster than 16 hours 33 minutes. One swimmer, Henry
      Sullivan of the United States, required 26 hours 50 minutes.

      Ederle first tried to swim the Channel in 1925. The Women's Swimming
      Association provided the financial backing. But after she swam 23
      miles in 8 hours 43 minutes, the people in a boat who were supposed
      to look after her thought she might be unconscious in the water.
      Somebody yelled, "She's drowning!" and they touched her, which
      immediately disqualified her.

      A perturbed Ederle insisted that she had not been drowning at all,
      only resting, and that she could have easily continued. "All I could
      wonder was, `What will they think of me back in the States?' " she
      said. She vowed to try it again and told her father and everyone else
      involved that no matter how she looked in the water, she did not want
      to be touched.

      She decided not to ask the Women's Swimming Association to back her a
      second time and raised the needed $9,000 herself. With the help of
      her sister Margaret, she designed a two-piece bathing suit that would
      not drag in the water, yet would be "decent in case I failed and they
      had to drag me out," she said.

      Shortly after 7 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1926, Ederle, smeared with sheep
      grease, waded into the English Channel at Cape Gris-Nez, France. She
      could see a red ball on the French shore, a warning to small craft to
      avoid a sea that promised to be very choppy. "Please, God, help me,"
      she said.

      For a while, she said she sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" to the
      rhythm of her stroke. In the boat that moved with her, the crew
      occasionally held up signs, which said things like "one wheel," "two
      wheels," enumerating parts of a car, because she had been promised a
      red roadster if she was successful.

      Fourteen hours 31 minutes later, a world record, Ederle reached
      Kingsdown on the English coast. If she had been able to swim in a
      straight line, it would have been a 21-mile trip. But the sea was so
      rough, she swam no less than 35 miles. Ederle always held that her
      record was never broken, even though in 1950, another American,
      Florence Chadwick, swam the Channel in 13 hours 20 minutes. That was
      in a relatively calm sea, Ederle said, so it was not a fair
      comparison.

      She was not prepared for the ticker-tape parade that New York gave
      her through its financial district on Aug. 27, 1926, in which an
      estimated two million people turned out and chanted, "Trudy! Trudy!"
      even though her family had always called her "Gertie." She had to be
      rushed into Mayor Jimmy Walker's office in City Hall when exuberant
      crowds stormed the doors. She was also not prepared for the adulation
      she received in the weeks to come, when somebody wrote a song
      titled, "Tell Me, Trudy, Who Is Going to Be the Lucky One?" Men were
      proposing to her by mail almost every week.

      Coolidge invited her to the White House, called her "America's best
      girl," and said to her, "I am amazed that a woman of your small
      stature should be able to swim the English Channel." It was a curious
      observation; Ederle weighed 142 pounds and soon became an adviser to
      a manufacturer of dresses for large women.

      She was invited to join a touring vaudeville act, and there were
      reports that she earned $2,000 or $3,000 a week. She went to
      Hollywood and made a 10-minute movie about herself, for which she was
      paid $8,000. Various groups wanted her to speak, and the marriage
      proposals kept coming.

      "I finally got the shakes," she told an interviewer years later. "I
      was just a bundle of nerves. I had to quit the tour and I was stone
      deaf." The hearing problem she had since childhood was made much
      worse by the Channel swim. Ederle had what was later described as a
      nervous breakdown.

      Her encroaching deafness made her shy away from people. In 1929, she
      was "practically engaged" to one man, and suggested to him that it
      might be difficult being married to a woman who could not hear well.
      He agreed and vanished. After he left her, she said: "There never was
      anyone else. I just didn't want to get hurt again."

      As the years passed, the public made fewer demands on her. The
      proposals stopped.

      In 1933, she slipped on broken tiles in the stairwell of the
      apartment building in which she lived, injured her back and was in a
      cast for four years. Doctors told her she would neither walk nor swim
      again, but in 1939 she appeared in Billy Rose's Aquacade at the New
      York World's Fair.

      Over the years, it sometimes seemed that journalists alone remembered
      her, and they wrote articles commemorating the 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th
      and 25th anniversaries of her Channel swim. She always obliged with
      an interview but detested the articles that tried to make her
      pitiable. "Don't weep for me, don't write any sob stories," she told
      The New York Times in 1956.

      When World War II began, Ederle took a job working for an airline at
      La Guardia Airport. She checked flight instruments used by airplanes
      and loved the work, she said. She quit after the war, when told she
      could keep the job if she moved to Tulsa, Okla.

      For many years, she taught swimming to children at the Lexington
      School for the Deaf in New York. She did not know sign language but
      was able to demonstrate to them in the water what they should know
      about swimming. Her own deafness continued to worsen.

      Although she claimed she had saved and invested well, she never made
      the huge amounts of money that came to celebrities in later
      generations. She earned some money in the 1950's lending her name to
      a bacteria-free swimming pool, but her income over the years was
      modest.

      Ederle lived for many years in Flushing, Queens, with two female
      companions.

      She is survived by 10 nephews and nieces.

      "I have no complaints," Ederle told one interviewer. "I am
      comfortable and satisfied. I am not a person who reaches for the moon
      as long as I have the stars."
    • arpan_deangelo
      ... of ... sports - ... 1926. ... many ... only ... and ... http://story.news.yahoo.com/newstmpl=story&u=/ap/20031201/ap_on_re_us/ ... Channel, ... in ... Bill
      Message 2 of 2 , Dec 1, 2003
        --- In Sri_Chinmoy_Inspiration@yahoogroups.com, ahelee_sf
        <no_reply@y...> wrote:
        > This morning I have been imagining The Supreme welcoming the soul
        of
        > one of the all time great champion-heros of women and women's
        sports -
        > Gertrude Ederle.
        >
        > Miss Ederle was the first woman to swim The English Channel in
        1926.
        > Her record time of 14 hours, 31 minutes stood for 24 years.
        >
        > It has always been my hope to meet her in person. There are not
        many
        > sports in which the pioneers are still living. Sadly for me, Miss
        > Ederle's family kept her very secluded and undisturbed in her final
        > years. But perhaps it was also her wish...
        > Another surprise for me was that Gertrude Ederle's home was located
        > in Queens, not very far at all from our tennis court, up until the
        > early 90s. So close and yet so far away!
        >
        > How this woman has inspired so many swimmers to cross The English
        > Channel - and women to conquer so many of life's challenges. God
        only
        > knows... such a significant achievement in the history of sports
        and
        > for the progress of all women.
        > Heartfelt Gratitude, Love, and Admiration For You Gertrude Ederle,
        > _
        > Ahelee
        > San Francisco
        >
        > Aticles at the following links (cut and paste):
        >
        > http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/01/sports/othersports/01EDER.html?
        > ex=1070859600&en=c7fc899c623f466f&ei=5062&partner=GOOGLE
        >
        >
        http://story.news.yahoo.com/newstmpl=story&u=/ap/20031201/ap_on_re_us/
        > obit_ederle
        >
        > New York Times Text below:
        > Gertrude Ederle, the First Woman to Swim Across the English
        Channel,
        > Dies at 98
        > By RICHARD SEVERO
        >
        > Published: December 1, 2003
        >
        >
        > Gertrude Ederle, who was called "America's best girl" by President
        > Calvin Coolidge in 1926 after she became the first woman to swim
        > across the English Channel, died yesterday at a nursing home in
        > Wyckoff, N.J. She was 98.
        >
        > Ederle was a symbol of the Roaring 20's, a decade given as much to
        > heroics as to materialism. For a time, her accomplishment put her
        in
        > the public's affection at the level of Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey,
        Bill
        > Tilden and Red Grange.
        >
        > Ederle did not sustain the lofty place in history of another hero
        of
        > the 1920's, Charles A. Lindbergh, who crossed the Atlantic a year
        > after her historic swim, or of the golden athletes who appeared
        > regularly before the public and kept their fame alive. But her
        feat,
        > which she did only once and under horrendous conditions, made a
        > memorable contribution in an age when many found it difficult to
        take
        > female athletes seriously.
        >
        > They had to take Ederle seriously, because she beat the records of
        > the five men who had previously made the swim from 1875 to 1923.
        >
        > Years later, after other men and women had successfully swum the
        > Channel, Grover A. Whalen, New York City's official greeter, said
        > that of all the celebrities he had welcomed to town, he could not
        > recall one that made the impact of Ederle at her homecoming.
        >
        > Ederele was born Oct. 23, 1905, in New York City, one of four
        > daughters and two sons of Henry Ederle, a butcher and provisioner,
        > and his wife, Anna. Her father owned a summer cottage in Highlands,
        > N.J., and she learned to swim on the Jersey Shore.
        >
        > She called herself a "water baby" and said that over the years, she
        > was "happiest between the waves." But she developed a hearing
        problem
        > when she was 5, after a bout with the measles. "The doctors told me
        > my hearing would get worse if I continued swimming, but I loved the
        > water so much, I just couldn't stop," she said.
        >
        > In the early 1920's, as a competitive swimmer, she set women's
        world
        > freestyle records and American freestyle records for various
        > distances from 100 to 800 meters. In a single afternoon in 1922,
        she
        > broke seven such records at Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Between 1921
        > and 1925, she held 29 amateur national and world records.
        >
        > In what might have been an anticipation of her Channel swim, she
        swam
        > more than 16 miles through tricky currents between the Battery and
        > Sandy Hook, N.J.
        >
        > In 1924, she was a member of the United States team that competed
        in
        > the Olympics in Paris. She won a gold medal as part of the 400-
        meter
        > freestyle relay, and she won the bronze medal in the 100 and 400
        > individual freestyle events. It was no small accomplishment. She
        was
        > swimming with an injured knee and, together with the other female
        > athletes from the United States, she had an added handicap of
        > fatigue. They were put up in hotels far away from the center of
        Paris
        > because United States officials did not want them contaminated with
        > what they saw as the city's bohemian morality. Ederle and her
        > teammates had to travel five to six hours each day to practice in
        the
        > Olympic pool.
        >
        > After Paris, she began to focus on the English Channel. The first
        > person to swim it was Matthew Webb of England, who in 1875 made it
        in
        > 21 hours 45 minutes. Of the four other men who succeeded before
        > Ederle, none were faster than 16 hours 33 minutes. One swimmer,
        Henry
        > Sullivan of the United States, required 26 hours 50 minutes.
        >
        > Ederle first tried to swim the Channel in 1925. The Women's
        Swimming
        > Association provided the financial backing. But after she swam 23
        > miles in 8 hours 43 minutes, the people in a boat who were supposed
        > to look after her thought she might be unconscious in the water.
        > Somebody yelled, "She's drowning!" and they touched her, which
        > immediately disqualified her.
        >
        > A perturbed Ederle insisted that she had not been drowning at all,
        > only resting, and that she could have easily continued. "All I
        could
        > wonder was, `What will they think of me back in the States?' " she
        > said. She vowed to try it again and told her father and everyone
        else
        > involved that no matter how she looked in the water, she did not
        want
        > to be touched.
        >
        > She decided not to ask the Women's Swimming Association to back her
        a
        > second time and raised the needed $9,000 herself. With the help of
        > her sister Margaret, she designed a two-piece bathing suit that
        would
        > not drag in the water, yet would be "decent in case I failed and
        they
        > had to drag me out," she said.
        >
        > Shortly after 7 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1926, Ederle, smeared with sheep
        > grease, waded into the English Channel at Cape Gris-Nez, France.
        She
        > could see a red ball on the French shore, a warning to small craft
        to
        > avoid a sea that promised to be very choppy. "Please, God, help
        me,"
        > she said.
        >
        > For a while, she said she sang "Let Me Call You Sweetheart" to the
        > rhythm of her stroke. In the boat that moved with her, the crew
        > occasionally held up signs, which said things like "one
        wheel," "two
        > wheels," enumerating parts of a car, because she had been promised
        a
        > red roadster if she was successful.
        >
        > Fourteen hours 31 minutes later, a world record, Ederle reached
        > Kingsdown on the English coast. If she had been able to swim in a
        > straight line, it would have been a 21-mile trip. But the sea was
        so
        > rough, she swam no less than 35 miles. Ederle always held that her
        > record was never broken, even though in 1950, another American,
        > Florence Chadwick, swam the Channel in 13 hours 20 minutes. That
        was
        > in a relatively calm sea, Ederle said, so it was not a fair
        > comparison.
        >
        > She was not prepared for the ticker-tape parade that New York gave
        > her through its financial district on Aug. 27, 1926, in which an
        > estimated two million people turned out and chanted, "Trudy!
        Trudy!"
        > even though her family had always called her "Gertie." She had to
        be
        > rushed into Mayor Jimmy Walker's office in City Hall when exuberant
        > crowds stormed the doors. She was also not prepared for the
        adulation
        > she received in the weeks to come, when somebody wrote a song
        > titled, "Tell Me, Trudy, Who Is Going to Be the Lucky One?" Men
        were
        > proposing to her by mail almost every week.
        >
        > Coolidge invited her to the White House, called her "America's best
        > girl," and said to her, "I am amazed that a woman of your small
        > stature should be able to swim the English Channel." It was a
        curious
        > observation; Ederle weighed 142 pounds and soon became an adviser
        to
        > a manufacturer of dresses for large women.
        >
        > She was invited to join a touring vaudeville act, and there were
        > reports that she earned $2,000 or $3,000 a week. She went to
        > Hollywood and made a 10-minute movie about herself, for which she
        was
        > paid $8,000. Various groups wanted her to speak, and the marriage
        > proposals kept coming.
        >
        > "I finally got the shakes," she told an interviewer years later. "I
        > was just a bundle of nerves. I had to quit the tour and I was stone
        > deaf." The hearing problem she had since childhood was made much
        > worse by the Channel swim. Ederle had what was later described as a
        > nervous breakdown.
        >
        > Her encroaching deafness made her shy away from people. In 1929,
        she
        > was "practically engaged" to one man, and suggested to him that it
        > might be difficult being married to a woman who could not hear
        well.
        > He agreed and vanished. After he left her, she said: "There never
        was
        > anyone else. I just didn't want to get hurt again."
        >
        > As the years passed, the public made fewer demands on her. The
        > proposals stopped.
        >
        > In 1933, she slipped on broken tiles in the stairwell of the
        > apartment building in which she lived, injured her back and was in
        a
        > cast for four years. Doctors told her she would neither walk nor
        swim
        > again, but in 1939 she appeared in Billy Rose's Aquacade at the New
        > York World's Fair.
        >
        > Over the years, it sometimes seemed that journalists alone
        remembered
        > her, and they wrote articles commemorating the 5th, 10th, 15th,
        20th
        > and 25th anniversaries of her Channel swim. She always obliged with
        > an interview but detested the articles that tried to make her
        > pitiable. "Don't weep for me, don't write any sob stories," she
        told
        > The New York Times in 1956.
        >
        > When World War II began, Ederle took a job working for an airline
        at
        > La Guardia Airport. She checked flight instruments used by
        airplanes
        > and loved the work, she said. She quit after the war, when told she
        > could keep the job if she moved to Tulsa, Okla.
        >
        > For many years, she taught swimming to children at the Lexington
        > School for the Deaf in New York. She did not know sign language but
        > was able to demonstrate to them in the water what they should know
        > about swimming. Her own deafness continued to worsen.
        >
        > Although she claimed she had saved and invested well, she never
        made
        > the huge amounts of money that came to celebrities in later
        > generations. She earned some money in the 1950's lending her name
        to
        > a bacteria-free swimming pool, but her income over the years was
        > modest.
        >
        > Ederle lived for many years in Flushing, Queens, with two female
        > companions.
        >
        > She is survived by 10 nephews and nieces.
        >
        > "I have no complaints," Ederle told one interviewer. "I am
        > comfortable and satisfied. I am not a person who reaches for the
        moon
        > as long as I have the stars."


        Ahelee,
        Thanks for the news, though sad it was. I read about her too. We need
        more people in the outer world like Gertrude Ederly. Self-
        transcendence against all the odds back then was an unbelievably
        courageous thing to do, especially as a woman. We can all use some of
        that inspiration, alot. I know how hard you tried to get her to meet
        us and CKG. Thanks for all the inspiration from the West coast as
        well.
        Sincerely, from cold NY,
        Arpan
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