Little Bits of History

Gertrude Ederle

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 6, 2011

Gertrude Ederle

August 6, 1926: Gertrude Ederle, 20 years old, becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel. She won one gold and two bronze medals for freestyle in the 1924 Olympics. In 1925 she swam 21 miles across Lower New York Bay from Manhattan to Sandy Hook in seven hours. She then attempted the English Channel swim a straight shot distance of 22 miles and failed. Her coach, Jabez Wolffe who had attempted the swim 20 times and failed, pulled her from the waters when he thought she was tiring.

For her next try, Gertrude hired a new coach – Thomas Burgess who had made the swim before. She left from Cap Gris-Nez, France at 7:05 AM and swam to Kingstown, England in 14 hours and 35 minutes, arriving at 9:40 PM. Along the way she met unfavorable winds that kicked up 20 foot swells. Her coach asked her to come aboard the boat and she replied, “What for?” Because of the treacherous water conditions, she actually swam 35 miles (56 km) to cover the distance. Only five men had previously made the swim with the best time at 16 hours and 33 minutes.

During her swimming career, Gertrude won 29 national and world records. After this world record swim, she was met with a ticker tape parade in New York City. She went on tour across the country and met President Coolidge. She had measles as a child and had diminished hearing as a result and she went completely deaf by the age of 40. She spent the rest of her life teaching deaf children to swim. She died in 2003 at the age of 98.

The first to swim the channel was Capt. Matthew Webb in 1875, swimming from England to France. In 1923, Enrico Tirabaschi was the fist to swim from France to England. Lynne Cox, 15 years old, has been the youngest to swim in 1972 while George Brunstad was 70 years old in 2004 when he made the swim. The fastest time goes to Christof Wandratsch who swam the channel in 7 hours 3 minutes and 52 seconds in 2005. There have been 811 people making 1,185 crossings that have been verified and under the rules set up for the major swim.

“Success is that old ABC – ability, breaks, and courage.” – Charles Luckman

“No man drowns if he perseveres in praying to God; and can swim.” – Russian Proverb

“A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.” – Pat Riley

“The endurance athlete is the ultimate realist.” – Marty Liquori

Also on this day:
Fat Man’s Predecessor – In 1945, an atomic bomb is dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
Humane? – In 1890, the first execution by electric chair took place.

Swimming the English Channel

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 25, 2010

Matthew Webb

August 25, 1875: Matthew Webb becomes the first person to swim the English Channel without aid from artificial means. He did so in 21 hours and 45 minutes. Webb was born in Dawley, Shropshire, England, and saved a younger brother, Thomas, from drowning in 1863. He joined the merchant navy at age twelve for a three year stint.

When a man fell overboard in the Atlantic Ocean, Webb jumped in after him in a futile attempt at rescue. He won both £100 and the Stanhope Gold Medal along with hero worship after the story appeared in the local papers. While serving as Captain of the steamship, Emerald, he read of an unsuccessful attempt by J. B. Johnson to swim the English Channel. He left his job and began training. He trained in endurance and to accustom himself to the cold waters.

He made his first attempt on August 12, but was unable to finish. He dove in again at Dover, England, swam a zigzag course that covered 39 miles and came ashore at Calais, France.

To date, nearly 1,200 people have successfully made the English Channel swim. By June 2006, 554 men and 262 women had completed the task. The England to France swim has been done 916 times, while the France to England trip has been accomplished 255 times. Thirty-three people have made both the coming and going trek, while three people have done a 3-way swim.

“Whoever knocks persistently, ends by entering.” – ‘Ali

“Ever’thing we do – seems to me is aimed right at goin’ on. Seems that way to me. Even gettin’ hungry – even bein’ sick; some die, but the rest is tougher.” – John Steinbeck

“Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.” Benjamin Franklin

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any one thing.” Abraham Lincoln

Also on this day, in 1835 The Sun began printing the Great Moon Hoax.

Gertrude Ederle

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 6, 2010

Gertrude Ederle

August 6, 1926: Gertrude Ederle, 20 years old, becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel. She won one gold and two bronze medals for freestyle in the 1924 Olympics. In 1925 she swam 21 miles across Lower New York Bay from Manhattan to Sandy Hook in seven hours. She then attempted the English Channel swim a straight shot distance of 22 miles and failed. Her coach, Jabez Wolffe who had attempted the swim 20 times and failed, pulled her from the waters when he thought she was tiring.

For her next try, Gertrude hired a new coach – Thomas Burgess who had made the swim before. She left from Cap Gris-Nez, France at 7:05 AM and swam to Kingstown, England in 14 hours and 35 minutes, arriving at 9:40 PM. Along the way she met unfavorable winds that kicked up 20 foot swells. Her coach asked her to come aboard the boat and she replied, “What for?” Because of the treacherous water conditions, she actually swam 35 miles (56 km) to cover the distance. Only five men had previously made the swim with the best time at 16 hours and 33 minutes.

During her swimming career, Gertrude won 29 national and world records. After this world record swim, she was met with a ticker tape parade in New York City. She went on tour across the country and met President Coolidge. She had measles as a child and had diminished hearing as a result and she went completely deaf by the age of 40. She spent the rest of her life teaching deaf children to swim. She died in 2003 at the age of 98.

The first to swim the channel was Capt. Matthew Webb in 1875, swimming from England to France. In 1923, Enrico Tirabaschi was the fist to swim from France to England. Lynne Cox, 15 years old, has been the youngest to swim in 1972 while George Brunstad was 70 years old in 2004 when he made the swim. The fastest time goes to Christof Wandratsch who swam the channel in 7 hours 3 minutes and 52 seconds in 2005. There have been 811 people making 1,185 crossings that have been verified and under the rules set up for the major swim.

“Success is that old ABC – ability, breaks, and courage.” – Charles Luckman

“No man drowns if he perseveres in praying to God; and can swim.” – Russian Proverb

“A champion needs a motivation above and beyond winning.” – Pat Riley

“The endurance athlete is the ultimate realist.” – Marty Liquori

Also on this day, in 1890 William Kemmler is executed, using the electric chair for the first time.
Bonus Link: In 1945, the first atomic bomb was dropped over Hiroshima.