The Great SwimBook - 2008
Draws on primary sources, diaries, and family interviews to document the story of four American athletes who in 1926 became the first women to swim the English Channel, in an account that also cites the media frenzy that surrounded their achievement.
The dramatic story of the four courageous female swimmers who captivated the world in the summer of 1926.
Despite the tensions of a world still recovering from World War I, during the summer of 1926, the story that enthralled the public revolved around four young American swimmers—Gertrude Ederle, Mille Gade, Lillian Cannon, and Clarabelle Barrett—who battled the weather, each other, and considerable odds to become the first woman to conquer the brutal waters of the English Channel.
The popular East Coast tabloids from New York to Boston engaged in rivalries nearly as competitive as the swimmers themselves; each backed a favorite and made certain their girl—in bathing attire—was plastered across their daily editions. Just as Seabiscuit, the little horse with the big heart, would bring the nation to a near standstill when he battled his rival War Admiral in 1938, this quartet of women held the attention of millions of people on both sides of the Atlantic for an entire summer.
Gavin Mortimer uses primary sources, diaries, interviews with relatives, and contemporary reports to paint an unforgettable portrait of a competition that changed the way the world looked at women, both in sport and society. More than an underdog story, The Great Swim is a tale of perseverance, strength, and sheer force of will. A portrait of an era that is as evocative as Cinderella Man, this is a memorable story of America and Americans in the 1920s.
Blackwell North Amer
On both sides of the Atlantic, the story that captivated the public in the summer of 1926 revolved around four young American swimmers who challenged the brutal waters of the English Channel: Gertrude Ederle, Mille Gade, Lillian Cannon, and Clarabelle Barrett. Just as Seabiscuit, the little horse with the big heart, would bring America to a near standstill when he battled his rival War Admiral in 1938, this quartet of women held the attention of the nation and beyond for an entire summer.
The Great Swim is the story of four determined women who spent the summer of 1926 attempting to overcome not only the Herculean difficulties of swimming the English Channel, but also the prejudices and stereotypes of women in athletics. American women had only had the right to vote for six years, and not until 1928 did women compete in several Olympic disciplines. Being the first woman to swim the Channel - a feat that had broken the will of many men - would presumably guarantee fame, fortune, and celebrity for the victor. Yet Gertrude Ederle, who shattered the men's record on August 6, 1926, found out very quickly that her celebrity would be fleeting and would come at a high price.
Using primary sources, diaries, interviews with relatives, and contemporary reports to paint an unforgettable portrait of the era, Gavin Mortimer brings to vibrant life a pivotal moment for women in sport. More than an underdog story, The Great Swim is a tale of perseverance, strength, and sheer force of will.