Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Trudy's Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the Worl

Trudy's Big Swim: How Gertrude Ederle Swam the English Channel and Took the Worl

Sue Macy
Illustrator:  Matt Collins 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Holiday House, 2017   ISBN: 978-0823436651

On August 6th, 1926, twenty year old Gertrude (Trudy) Ederle, walked across a French beach and waded into the waters of the English Channel. She intended to be the first woman to swim the twenty-one miles across the Channel to get to England. The year before Trudy had attempted to make the crossing but she had not made it. Indeed, only five men out of two hundred people had succeeded in crossing the perilous stretch of water, coping with cramps, storms, cold water, jellyfish stings and other dangers to do so.

Trudy had an impressive list of wins to her name, including one gold and two bronze medals that she won at the 1924 Olympic Games. In 1925 she managed to swim twenty-two miles from New York City to Sandy Hook in New Jersey in seven hours and eleven minutes. Trudy therefore knew that she could swim long distances and she was determined to conquer the Channel.

At first all went well. The water was calm, the sun was shining, and her father and friends, who accompanied her on her journey in a boat, sang songs to “encourage her.” Trudy hydrated and ate and then swam again. Then, at about noon, the conditions changed. The waves grew bigger and Trudy had to dodge driftwood and jellyfish. Trudy’s trainer, who had managed to swim the channel himself on his thirteenth attempt, wanted Trudy to give up, but she refused to do so. Trudy was not a quitter.

This wonderful book tells the story of a woman who was one of the trailblazers in the history of women athletes. She demonstrated to the world that women could perform incredible feats of athleticism, and they could also break records held by men.

An afterword and author’s note at the back of the book offers readers further information about the life and times of Trudy Ederle.