Pioneering English Channel swimmer celebrated in ‘Young Woman and the Sea’

Actor Rebel Wilson attends the World Premiere of Disney's "Young Woman and the Sea" in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S. May 16, 2024. REUTERS/Mike Blake

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - New Hollywood film "Young Woman and the Sea" brings the story of Gertrude "Trudy" Ederle to the big screen, shining a light on the Olympic gold medalist's feat to become the first woman to swim the English Channel.

In 1926, the American set off from northern France for the southern English coast, making the crossing in 14 hours 31 minutes and beating the men’s world record by one hour and 59 minutes.

Despite a celebratory parade in New York on her return, Ederle's name and accomplishments are not as well known to the general public as those of other sports figures.

"Honestly, probably a big part of it was she was female and that's why," actor Daisy Ridley, who plays Ederle in the Disney movie, told Reuters at the film's Los Angeles premiere on Thursday.

"Babe Ruth was her contemporary and everyone remembers Babe Ruth... I suppose... he was constantly in front of people and she did something that largely kept her widely isolated because you couldn't see her do the swim at that time, bar some pictures and a bit of reel, but I'm very happy that the story is being told now."

"Young Woman and the Sea" is based on the 2009 book of the same name by Glenn Stout.

"Before Trudy, people were still making the argument that women not only shouldn't compete in sports but they couldn't," Stout said.

"By swimming the English Channel, by beating the men's record by two hours, that quite literally blew that argument out of the water."

The movie is being released at the end of May in the run-up to the Olympics, held in Paris, where at the 1924 games in the same city, Ederle won a gold and two bronze medals.

"She did such an extraordinary thing and it's just absurd that it hasn't been celebrated and she's not a household name," actor Tilda Cobham-Hervey, who plays Trudy's sister Meg, said.

"So it feels really important to me that we get her story out."

(Reporting by Rollo Ross; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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