Gertrude Caroline Ederle (October 23, 1906 - November 30, 2003) became the first woman to swim the English Channel on August 6, 1926.
Ederle began her famous swim at Cape Gris-Nez, France at 7:05 AM on the morning of August 6. Fourteen hours and 30 minutes later, she came ashore at Kingsdown, England. Her record stood for almost a quarter-century; Florence Chadwick swam the channel in 1950 in over 13 hours.
Before her historic swim, she swam the 21 miles from Manhattan to Sandy Hook in over seven hours a year earlier. That same year, 1925, she made her first attempt at swimming the Channel, but was disqualified when a trainer grabbed Ederle after she began coughing.
When Ederle returned to America, she was greeted with a ticker-tape parade in New York. She went on to play herself in a movie ("Swim, Girl, Swim") and tour the vaudeville circuit. She met President Coolidge and had a song and a dance step named for her. At the 1924 Summer Olympics, she won a gold medal as a part of US 400-meter freestyle relay team and bronze medals for finishing third in the 100-meter and 400-meter freestyle races.
Ederle had poor hearing since childhood due to measles, and by the 1940s she was completely deaf. Ederle passed away on November 30, 2003 in Wyckoff, New Jersey at the age of 97.