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Other titles in the Matt Christopher Sports Bio Bookshelf series:
On the Field With...Peyton and Eli Manning (Matt Christopher Sports Biographies)by Matt Christopher
Trudys Big Splash
On the morning of August 6, 1926, an editorial appeared in the London Daily News about the rights of women to compete in and play sports. The editorial ended, "Even the most uncompromising champion of the rights of women must admit that in contests of physical skill, speed, and endurance, they must forever remain the weaker sex." As residents of London read the paper over their morning tea, a young American woman named Trudy Ederle stood on the shore in France and looked out across the English Channel toward England, twenty-one miles away.
Although dozens and dozens of people had tried to swim the English Channel before, only five—all men—had made it across. Swimming the Channel is one of the most difficult and dangerous athletic feats in the world. Even today, more people have climbed Mount Everest than have swum the English Channel. In 1875, Matthew Webb became the first person to swim the Channel, a feat that took him nearly twenty-two hours to accomplish. The speed record was held by the third person to swim the Channel, Enrique Tirabocci, who in 1923 made the crossing in sixteen hours and thirty-three minutes.
Although many had tried, no woman had ever swum the English Channel. A few had made it within a few miles of the opposite shore before bad weather, fatigue, and tides forced them out of the water, and many more quit after only a few hours in the water. In 1925, in fact, Trudy Ederle had tried to swim the Channel only to fail. Although she had been considered the greatest female swimmer in the world at the time, many observers thought that if Trudy could not swim the Channel, then no woman could.
Trudy disagreed and decided to try again. Now, just a few minutes after seven a.m., she adjusted her swimming goggles and stepped into the water. When the waves reached her chest, she took a deep breath, looked up at the sun peeking through the hazy summer sky, and whispered, "God, help me." Then, with a big splash, she dove beneath the waves and started swimming.
Trudy was determined to succeed this time. She knew that a woman could swim the English Channel.
All she had to do was prove it.
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