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How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the World by Storm

by Sue Macy ; illustrated by Matt Collins

Pub Date: March 1st, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-8234-3665-1
Publisher: Holiday House

This picture-book biography of the first woman to swim the English Channel makes a big splash.

On Aug. 6, 1926, Gertrude Ederle took the world by storm. As a teenager she earned records for swimming sprint distances, and in 1924 she earned one gold and two bronze medals at the Olympics. By 1925 she had set 29 swimming records. Her endurance and determination made the white New Yorker a strong candidate to challenge the English Channel, which she achieved. The focus of the narrative is on the actual event, with details that give depth to the swim and the woman. Since holding onto the boat was not permitted during the attempt, her support team used a net at the end of a long pole to deliver a baby bottle with chicken broth and fried chicken to give her energy while she treaded water. The 21 miles from a beach in France to the English shore took her 14 hours and 39 minutes. The dramatic, full-bleed illustrations combine with the evocative text to humanize the event and the heroine. Especially effective are the perspectives and depiction of water. Impressive research is evident in the author’s note, bibliographic essay, and source notes. Endpapers list a timeline of 1920s sports highlights.

A valuable addition to picture-book biographies of women who made waves in history.

(afterword) (Picture book/biography. 6-9)