anna brones

writer + artist + activist

Posts Tagged ‘sports

Gertrude Ederle

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“I just knew if it could be done, it had to be done, and I did it.”

Gertrude Ederle (1905 – 2003)

“I just knew if it could be done, it had to be done, and I did it,” Ederle told the New York Times in an article published after her incredible feat: becoming the first woman to swim across the English Channel.

Born in New York City in 1906 to German immigrants, Ederle spent time in the water from a young age and was a champion swimmer by the time she was a teenager. She won a gold medal and two bronze medals at the 1924 Olympics in Paris, France.

After Paris, she set her sights on long distance swimming, training for the Channel. Closer to home, in June 1925, Ederle became the first woman to swim the length of New York Bay, covering 16 miles from the New York Battery to Sandy Hook, New Jersey. She made an unsuccessful attempt at the English Channel that same summer, but returned the following year

Only five men had successfully made the 22.5 mile crossing, the fastest in 16 hours 23 minutes. Ederle vowed to do better. On the morning of August 6, 1926, Ederle, covered in lanolin, petroleum jelly and lard to keep her warm while in the water and wearing enormous wrap around glasses, took to the water at Cape Gris-Nez, France. The waters were rough that day, and twice her coach T.W. Burgess – the second man to successfully swam across the Channel – urged her to come out of the water. Ederle’s father and sister who were in the boat with Burgess insisted that she stay her course; her father had promised Ederle a roadster is she made her goal.

Committed to finishing, Ederle pushed through stormy waters, tides and swells, reaching shore after 14 hours and 31 minutes, a time that gave her the title of the first woman to swim across the English Channel, but also the world’s fastest person to do so. The accomplishment earned her the title of ”America’s best girl” by President Calvin Coolidge, and inspired tens of thousands of American women to take up swimming.

By the 1930s, her fame had evaporated. A hearing problem that she had when younger, and made worse by her Channel crossing, eventually caught up with her, and a nasty fall in her apartment led to a back injury. Doctors said she would never walk or swim again, but Ederle prevailed and appeared in a water show at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. Conscious of her own hearing impairment, she went on to teach swimming at a deaf school in New York. Eventually Ederle was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1965 and the Women’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1980, a little over 50 years after her amazing accomplishment.

Gertrude Eberle is one of three women from the Women’s Wisdom Project series to be featured in the AGE issue of Taproot Magazine. I am honored to have contributed to this issue, and encourage you to check out this great publication that’s indepedent and ad-free. You can order a copy of the AGE issue here.

This papercut and profile are a part of the Women’s Wisdom Project, a project focused on showcasing the wisdom of inspiring, insightful women by making 100 papercut portraits.

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Written by Anna Brones

October 2, 2018 at 09:50

1,000 Miles: Month 3

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photo 1

Usually when I talk about running I get really excited. Depending on how good the last run was I may get that moderately crazy look in my eyes. And I get excited when I sit down to write about it (proof: Month 1 and Month 2 recaps).

But March didn’t really have any of that. In fact I’m hesitant to even write a recap of the month because it felt like I barely ran at all. Instead, the knees said “you need to take a break!”

Because I’m not training for a marathon, or an ultra trail run, or a triathlon, the potential of an injury hadn’t really crossed my mind. Sure, I was intent on running a little more than usual, but not that much. But then the knees started hurting. Not in a “I am about to break” kind of way, but in a “hi! you better pay attention to us or we will break” kind of way.

So I did what any runner would do: got out the foam roller. I also added in a routine of sun salutations every morning. And some squats. In other words, I started doing all of those things that I knew I should have been doing from the get-go, but just hadn’t got around to.

Which got me thinking: how often does this happen to us in life in general?

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Written by Anna Brones

April 9, 2014 at 15:33