With the Summer Olympics coming up this summer, we dug up some Fun Facts about women in the sport of swimming.
While swimming became an Olympic event in 1908, women weren’t allowed to compete until 1912. Fanny Durack of Australia became the first female to win a gold medal in the 100-yard freestyle race that year.
Donna de Varona of California is nicknamed the “Queen of Swimming.” She won 37 championship titles and two Olympic gold medals in the 1960s.
In 1926, Gertrude Ederle was the first woman to swim the English Channel from France to England in 14 hours and 39 minutes. Beating that, Florence Chadwick was the first woman to swim both ways across the Channel. In 1950 she swam from France to England in 13 hours, 20 minutes. In 1951, ’53 and ’55, she swam from England to France recording a personal best in ’55 of 13 hours and ’55 minutes.
A couple more very amazing feats accomplished by marathon swimmers would be Susie Maroney of Australia who swam from Isla Mujeres, Mexico to Las Tumbas, Cuba in 1998. This was a world record swim of 128 miles, which took her 38 hours and 27 minutes to complete. In 2003, Lynne Cox became the first woman to swim the five miles of 40-degree ocean from Alaska to Russia. She did this wearing only a swimsuit, cap, and goggles.
Janet Evans won four gold medals during the 1988 and 1992 Olympics. Amy Van Dyken won four in the 1996 Olympics and then added two more in 2000. But it’s Jenny Thompson who holds the Olympic record for swimmers, with eight gold medals between 1988 and 2004. She also has three silver and one bronze, giving her 12 total, more than any other female swimmer in the world.
All of these facts are pretty amazing. To become a swimmer of this caliber takes grit, determination, and hours upon hours of training. The entire family becomes involved when a child begins to train. As a matter of fact, Jenny Thompsons’ family moved to Dover, New Hampshire when she was 12 years old so she could continue her intense training.
Not everyone is cut out to be an Olympic swimmer, but most everyone can swim. It’s a sport that builds endurance and strength. If you are recovering from an injury, swimming is also a good way to re-build strength, as the buoyancy of the water has less impact on your body, so go out and swim!