The Great Swim

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9780802717498: The Great Swim

The dramatic story of the four courageous female swimmers who captivated the world in the summer of 1926.

During the summer of 1926, the story that enthralled the public revolved around four young swimmers, Gertrude Ederle, Mille Gade, Lillian Cannon, and Clarabelle Barrette, who battled the weather, each other, and considerable odds to become the first woman to conquer the English Channel―and to become the latest darling of the American tabloid press. Gavin Mortimer paints an unforgettable portrait of a competition that changed the way the world looked at women, in both sport and society.

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About the Author:

Gavin Mortimer is the author of Chasing Icarus (page 15). He has written for a wide range of publications, from Esquire to the Daily Telegraph, from BBC History to the Observer. He lives in the south of France.

Review:

“[Mortimer's] re-creation of Ederle's crossing you can't help but feel cold, wet and exhausted....In fact, Ederle's time 14 hours and 39 minutes beat the male record by a full two hours. Her triumph was as an athlete, no asterisk for gender.” ―Ginny Merdes, Seattle Times

“...what might be the most amazing athletic achievement of the century....Mortimer tells this story with a verve that pulls the reader in like a high tide....After conquering the Channel, Ederle was an American hero, as celebrated as Jack Dempsey, Babe Ruth or Bobby Jones; when she died in 2003 at age 97, she was all but forgotten. Her legacy, which included the Olympic Committee's increasing the number of swimming events for women, was confined to a few short lines in her obituary.” ―Allen Barra, Washington Post Book World

“A stirring portrait of courage and endurance, but also a bittersweet tale of the vagaries of fame and fortune.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“British journalist and historian Mortimer has done Ederle--and sports history in general--a huge service in this wonderfully written book” ―Publishers Weekly

“In 1926, when legs-baring bathing suits were still considered titillating, swimming the English Channel was a fast track to international stardom. This engrossing book follows four American women who competed that summer to become the first female to cross the treacherous strait. Mortimer's descriptions of their attempts are gripping, like the failed try of underdog Clarabelle Barrett, who struggled in rough seas for over 21 hours before giving up. Even more fascinating is the rabid celebrity culture he evokes: Mobs of adoring fans in New York nearly tore one successful swimmer to pieces, only to forget all about her the following year. A-” ―Entertainment Weekly

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Mortimer, Gavin
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ISBN 10: 0802717497 ISBN 13: 9780802717498
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