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In 1926, Gertrude Ederle became the first female to swim the English Channel. Although today she is considered a pioneer in women''s swimming, women were swimming competitively 50 years earlier. This historical book describes the origins of women''s competitive swimming in the United States, beginning in the nineteenth century through Ederle''s astonishing accomplishment. Women and girls faced many obstacles to safe swimming opportunities, including restrictive beliefs about physical abilities, access to safe and clean water, bathing suits that did not allow for movement, and opposition from official sporting organizations. Placed in the context of the current popularity of women''s sports, this book is a testament to how far female athletes have come.