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Re: Passing of First Woman to Swim The English Channel

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  • 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 1 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
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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
      > knows... such a significant achievement in the history of sports
      > 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
      > obit_ederle
      > New York Times Text below:
      > Gertrude Ederle, the First Woman to Swim Across the English
      > Dies at 98
      > 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,
      > Tilden and Red Grange.
      > Ederle did not sustain the lofty place in history of another hero
      > 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
      > which she did only once and under horrendous conditions, made a
      > memorable contribution in an age when many found it difficult to
      > 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
      > 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
      > freestyle records and American freestyle records for various
      > distances from 100 to 800 meters. In a single afternoon in 1922,
      > 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
      > 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
      > the Olympics in Paris. She won a gold medal as part of the 400-
      > freestyle relay, and she won the bronze medal in the 100 and 400
      > individual freestyle events. It was no small accomplishment. She
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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
      > 21 hours 45 minutes. Of the four other men who succeeded before
      > Ederle, none were faster than 16 hours 33 minutes. One swimmer,
      > Sullivan of the United States, required 26 hours 50 minutes.
      > Ederle first tried to swim the Channel in 1925. The Women's
      > 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
      > 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
      > involved that no matter how she looked in the water, she did not
      > to be touched.
      > 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 of
      > her sister Margaret, she designed a two-piece bathing suit that
      > not drag in the water, yet would be "decent in case I failed and
      > 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.
      > could see a red ball on the French shore, a warning to small craft
      > avoid a sea that promised to be very choppy. "Please, God, help
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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
      > 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!
      > even though her family had always called her "Gertie." She had to
      > rushed into Mayor Jimmy Walker's office in City Hall when exuberant
      > crowds stormed the doors. She was also not prepared for the
      > 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
      > 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
      > observation; Ederle weighed 142 pounds and soon became an adviser
      > 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
      > 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,
      > was "practically engaged" to one man, and suggested to him that it
      > might be difficult being married to a woman who could not hear
      > He agreed and vanished. After he left her, she said: "There never
      > 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
      > cast for four years. Doctors told her she would neither walk nor
      > 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
      > her, and they wrote articles commemorating the 5th, 10th, 15th,
      > 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
      > The New York Times in 1956.
      > When World War II began, Ederle took a job working for an airline
      > La Guardia Airport. She checked flight instruments used by
      > 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
      > the huge amounts of money that came to celebrities in later
      > generations. She earned some money in the 1950's lending her name
      > 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
      > as long as I have the stars."

      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,
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