Gertrude Ederle


August 19, 2022

Gertrude Caroline Ederle (New York, October 23, 1905 - Wyckoff, November 30, 2003) was an American swimmer. She is an Olympic champion, she is the first holder of 5 world records, she was the first woman to swim across the English Channel in 1926.


Gertrude Ederle was born in Manhattan, New York in 1905. She was the third of six children of Gertrude Anna Haberstroh and Henry Ederle, two immigrants from Germany. According to some biographical sources, her father had a butcher shop on Amsterdam Avenue in Manhattan. It was her father who taught her to swim probably in New Jersey where the family owned a summer residence. She initially did not show any competitive propensity for swimming: in fact she went down to the pool for the first time at the age of 9 and she did not have a formal training until 15; however, despite the lack of preparation behind him, already at the age of 17 he boasted important results, such as several national and world records over distances ranging from 50 yards to half a mile, the conquest of seven records in a single day (in 1922) and the Olympic qualification. At the 1924 Paris Games she won the gold medal in the US 4x100m freestyle relay, plus two individual bronze medals in the 100m and 400m. In 1925 she swam 21 miles (about 34 km) across the bay of New York, from Manhattan to Sandy Hook, in 7 hours and 11 minutes, setting the new all-time record (male and female). That year she also attempted the Channel crossing, but she had to drop out due to disqualification, having been supported by one of the coaches during a coughing fit. Gertrude Ederle wanted to try again the following year. On August 6, 1926, she left Cap Gris-Nez, France, at 7:05 am and swam to Kingsdown, England, after 14 hours and 34 minutes, a record that lowered the record held up to that point by more than two hours. moment by the Argentine Enrique Tiraboschi. It was the first time a woman had swum across the English Channel. After her other women accomplished the feat, but her time stood as a record for 24 years, until in 1950 it was improved by Florence Chadwick (the thirteenth woman to cross the Channel). Upon returning home, Gertrude Ederle was celebrated with a ticker-tape parade in New York on August 27, 1926 and was received by President Calvin Coolidge. In 1927 she played herself in the film The school of the sirens (Swim, Girl, Swim). In 1933 a fall from her stairs resulted in serious injuries, following which it took years for her to fully recover. In 1939, however, she managed to perform at the New York Universal Exposition. In the 1940s, Gertrude Ederle, who had suffered from measles-induced hearing problems since childhood, became completely deaf. Retired from the public eye, she devoted herself to teaching deaf children to swim. In 1965 she was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She died on November 30, 2003, at the age of 98.

At the cinema

Gertrude Ederle appeared in some documentaries and in a film, The school of the sirens, in the role of herself.


Olympic Mermaids Neptune's Nieces La scuola delle sirene (Swim Girl, Swim), directed by Clarence G. Badger (1927) Sports Immortals Fifty Years Before Your Eyes Haunts of the Black Masseur


Related items

Progression of the 100m freestyle world record Progression of the 200m freestyle world record Progression of the 400m freestyle world record Progression of the 800m freestyle world record Progression of the world record in the 4x100m freestyle

Other projects

Wikimedia Commons contains images or other files about Gertrude Ederle

External links

(EN) Gertrude Ederle, in Encyclopedia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. (EN) Gertrude Ederle, on, International Swimming Hall of Fame