September 11th, 1951: Florence Chadwick becomes the first woman to swim across the English Channel
Swimming is a physical activity that takes a ton of stamina and strength. Unless you are Michael Phelps, showing off your skills in an Olympic-sized swimming pool just isn’t in the cards. Even more impressive? Swimming across rocky, unpredictable open water.
Swimming across any body of water can be strenuous
Whether it be fighting the current or coming in contact with scary marine life, swimming in open water is kind of terrifying. Nature has no mercy, and things can get tiring super fast.
One of the most famous open water swims that many adventurers dream of accomplishing is the English Channel, which runs between England and France. Around 21 miles to completion, this swim is anything but a walk in the park — or light dip in the pool.
Sink or swim for one woman
This treck is not for beginners, and until 1951 no woman was able to make it from England to France solely by swimming. A woman named Florence Chadwick from California swam onto the scene, making some serious ass-kicking history.
On September 11, 1951, 32-year-old San Diego native Florence Chadwick was the first woman to ever swim the English Channel both ways — from England to France and from France to England.
This lady was literally unstoppable
Chadwick’s 16-hour swim was one for the books, and her passion for swimming at a young age proved this epic win inevitable.
She was competing in swimming races since the age of six and even won her first US championship at thirteen.
Even her death paid homage to the place she spent the most time — in the water. After dying from leukemia in 1995, her ashes were spread over the Pacific Ocean. Chadwick was a frontrunner for female athletes everywhere. Because everyone loves a strong, badass woman.