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5 Women Who Changed the Sport of Swimming

From swim suits to gold medals while saving lives in between, women have left their mark in the world of swimming.

As we celebrate National Women’s History Month, we are thrilled to share the stories of these five women.

Read more in this article

Annette Kellerman – 1905

In 1905, Kellerman became the first woman to attempt the English Channel. Additionally, Kellerman was a leading voice in advocating for a one-piece swimsuit.

Charlotte Epstein – 1911

Epstein established The National Women’s Lifesaving League in 1911 in the hope that fewer girls and women would die of drowning, and that more men and women might learn to swim.

Gertrude Ederle – 1924-1926

Ederle won 3 gold medals for the USA at the 1924 Paris Olympics. She is remembered for becoming the first woman to successfully cross the English Channel in 1926. Ederle chose to complete the historic swim in a two-piece bathing suit. Her decision proved to be the first time a female swimmer had worn a two-piece suit in public.

Esther Williams – 1940s – 50s

Williams is known today for the numerous films she starred in, as a bathing beauty doing synchronized swimming, during the 1940s and 1950s. Because of Williams, everyday women- not just athletes- wanted to swim.

Dara Torres – 2008

Dara Torres continued to expand the role of women in swimming by competing in her historic fifth Olympics (the most that any swimmer had ever competed in) in Beijing in 2008.

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