Re: Passing of First Woman to Swim The English Channel
- --- In Sri_Chinmoy_Inspiration@yahoogroups.com, ahelee_sf
> This morning I have been imagining The Supreme welcoming the soulof
> one of the all time great champion-heros of women and women'ssports -
> Gertrude Ederle.1926.
> Miss Ederle was the first woman to swim The English Channel in
> Her record time of 14 hours, 31 minutes stood for 24 years.many
> It has always been my hope to meet her in person. There are not
> sports in which the pioneers are still living. Sadly for me, Missonly
> 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
> knows... such a significant achievement in the history of sportsand
> for the progress of all women.http://story.news.yahoo.com/newstmpl=story&u=/ap/20031201/ap_on_re_us/
> Heartfelt Gratitude, Love, and Admiration For You Gertrude Ederle,
> San Francisco
> Aticles at the following links (cut and paste):
> New York Times Text below:
> Gertrude Ederle, the First Woman to Swim Across the English
> Dies at 98in
> 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
> the public's affection at the level of Babe Ruth, Jack Dempsey,Bill
> Tilden and Red Grange.of
> Ederle did not sustain the lofty place in history of another hero
> the 1920's, Charles A. Lindbergh, who crossed the Atlantic a yearfeat,
> after her historic swim, or of the golden athletes who appeared
> regularly before the public and kept their fame alive. But her
> which she did only once and under horrendous conditions, made atake
> memorable contribution in an age when many found it difficult to
> female athletes seriously.problem
> 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
> when she was 5, after a bout with the measles. "The doctors told meworld
> 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
> freestyle records and American freestyle records for variousshe
> distances from 100 to 800 meters. In a single afternoon in 1922,
> broke seven such records at Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. Between 1921swam
> and 1925, she held 29 amateur national and world records.
> In what might have been an anticipation of her Channel swim, she
> more than 16 miles through tricky currents between the Battery andin
> Sandy Hook, N.J.
> In 1924, she was a member of the United States team that competed
> 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 400was
> individual freestyle events. It was no small accomplishment. She
> swimming with an injured knee and, together with the other femaleParis
> athletes from the United States, she had an added handicap of
> fatigue. They were put up in hotels far away from the center of
> because United States officials did not want them contaminated withthe
> 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
> Olympic pool.in
> 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
> 21 hours 45 minutes. Of the four other men who succeeded beforeHenry
> Ederle, none were faster than 16 hours 33 minutes. One swimmer,
> Sullivan of the United States, required 26 hours 50 minutes.Swimming
> Ederle first tried to swim the Channel in 1925. The Women's
> Association provided the financial backing. But after she swam 23could
> 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
> wonder was, `What will they think of me back in the States?' " sheelse
> said. She vowed to try it again and told her father and everyone
> involved that no matter how she looked in the water, she did notwant
> to be touched.a
> She decided not to ask the Women's Swimming Association to back her
> second time and raised the needed $9,000 herself. With the help ofwould
> her sister Margaret, she designed a two-piece bathing suit that
> not drag in the water, yet would be "decent in case I failed andthey
> had to drag me out," she said.She
> Shortly after 7 a.m. on Aug. 6, 1926, Ederle, smeared with sheep
> grease, waded into the English Channel at Cape Gris-Nez, France.
> could see a red ball on the French shore, a warning to small craftto
> avoid a sea that promised to be very choppy. "Please, God, helpme,"
> she said.wheel," "two
> 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
> wheels," enumerating parts of a car, because she had been promiseda
> red roadster if she was successful.so
> 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
> rough, she swam no less than 35 miles. Ederle always held that herwas
> record was never broken, even though in 1950, another American,
> Florence Chadwick, swam the Channel in 13 hours 20 minutes. That
> in a relatively calm sea, Ederle said, so it was not a fairTrudy!"
> 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!
> even though her family had always called her "Gertie." She had tobe
> rushed into Mayor Jimmy Walker's office in City Hall when exuberantadulation
> crowds stormed the doors. She was also not prepared for the
> she received in the weeks to come, when somebody wrote a songwere
> titled, "Tell Me, Trudy, Who Is Going to Be the Lucky One?" Men
> proposing to her by mail almost every week.curious
> 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
> observation; Ederle weighed 142 pounds and soon became an adviserto
> a manufacturer of dresses for large women.was
> 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
> paid $8,000. Various groups wanted her to speak, and the marriageshe
> 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,
> was "practically engaged" to one man, and suggested to him that itwell.
> might be difficult being married to a woman who could not hear
> He agreed and vanished. After he left her, she said: "There neverwas
> anyone else. I just didn't want to get hurt again."a
> 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
> cast for four years. Doctors told her she would neither walk norswim
> again, but in 1939 she appeared in Billy Rose's Aquacade at the Newremembered
> York World's Fair.
> Over the years, it sometimes seemed that journalists alone
> her, and they wrote articles commemorating the 5th, 10th, 15th,20th
> and 25th anniversaries of her Channel swim. She always obliged withtold
> an interview but detested the articles that tried to make her
> pitiable. "Don't weep for me, don't write any sob stories," she
> The New York Times in 1956.at
> When World War II began, Ederle took a job working for an airline
> La Guardia Airport. She checked flight instruments used byairplanes
> and loved the work, she said. She quit after the war, when told shemade
> 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
> the huge amounts of money that came to celebrities in laterto
> generations. She earned some money in the 1950's lending her name
> a bacteria-free swimming pool, but her income over the years wasmoon
> Ederle lived for many years in Flushing, Queens, with two female
> 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
> 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
Sincerely, from cold NY,