Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World
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Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  96 ratings  ·  41 reviews
In 1926, before skirt lengths inched above the knee and before anyone was ready to accept that a woman could test herself physically, a plucky American teenager named Trudy Ederle captured the imagination of the world when she became the first woman to swim the English Channel. It was, and still is, a feat more incredible and uncommon than scaling Mount Everest. Upon her r...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published July 28th 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) (first published January 1st 2009)
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Alicia
This book was amazing. Interesting history, woman's lib, robbed childhoods, this book has it all. Did you know that Trudy Ederle invented the bikini 20 years before French engineer Louis Réard did it in 1946? She actually swam the Channel in one because she found that it had less drag than any other suits she tried.

Also, did you know that Native Americans invented the crawl, or freestyle stroke? For years the breaststroke or sidestroke was thought to be superior to any other swim stroke until th...more
Ruth
I thought this book would be a casual "pick-up" read but instead found it a very interesting and informative piece of writing. It reflects the mores of the time in the 1920s when women were not allowed to learn to swim because modest young women were felt to be too weak and unfit for such a masculine occupation. After a boat accident resulting in a number of deaths (of mostly women and girls), public attitude began to change and women began to venture into more sports. Learning to swim became an...more
Susan
Mar 20, 2010 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Susan by: Tara
Trudy Ederle was the first woman to swim the English Channel, and this is her story. However, it is much more than that. It is also the story, to a lesser degree, of the English Channel, of the acceptance of women athletes, of the acceptance of swimming in general and especially for women. The story opens with a tragedy on the East River. A pleasure boat carrying families caught fire and many died because they didn't know how to swim. I didn't realize that even in the early 20th century, swimmin...more
Megan
Trudy Ederle's place in history is often overlooked.
I come from a family of open-water swimmers. I have friends who have done solo crossings, and I myself participated in a successful relay swim across the Channel in 2007. And yet, I only vaguely knew about Trudy Ederle. My dad has long asserted that Lynne Cox (who, in 1972, finally displaced Trudy as the youngest female swimmer to make the crossing) was the one who revolutionized open-water swimming by using the Australian Crawl rather than th...more
Susan
"The Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World" is the story of Trudy Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel - but it's more than that.

First, a lot of history on swimming. I didn't realize that it's only been in the past 90 years or so that women were taught to swim. For much of Europe's history, swimming was thought to be ungainly and not something proper folks did. Even when men began swimming, it certainly wasn't a sport for wo...more
Beth
Nov 06, 2009 Beth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Beth by: Alicia Loor
My friend Alicia recommended this one, and as a history-lover, I thought I'd try it out. The story itself is a remarkable, inspiring one. Trudy Ederle was such a fantastic swimmer at all distances, and yet she still had obstacles to overcome: social stigma (it was taboo for women to appear in bathing suits in public, and they simply weren't considered true athletes based on their gender), personal problems (she was mostly deaf, and this exacerbated her reticence toward the spotlight), and the Ch...more
Mary
I think non-fiction, despite being my very favorite genre, either falls into two categories. 1. the best reading of all time or 2. an abysmal failure and mind numbingly boring. That being said this book falls largely in the mediocre category for me. At times I was invested and intrigued and other times I was overwhelmed with more useless information than I wanted to deal with.

The book is about the first woman to swim the English channel. Now having said this I used to swim on the swim team, thi...more
Emilie
I was fascinated by the story behind this book. I was mostly unaware of this tale and the writing was really excellent, drawing the reading in as if it were good fiction instead of a sports novel. Someone who is very interested in the sport of swimming might like each and every chapter, but I found about half of the chapters in the fist half of the book to be filled with too much (seemingly unnecessary) information for me. Entire chapters were dedicated to the weather, wind patterns and tides of...more
Jennifer
Rather enjoyed this one, though I am definitely not a swimmer. Stout does an excellent job of keeping the relevant background details (history of swimming, geological aspects of the English Channel, various asides) brief, providing just enough information. The focus on Trudy and the people in her swimming life is at the heart of the book, and where a reader's interest lies.

Even with an understanding of the culture of the early 20th Century, I was amazed (and sometimes amused) by the rather rigid...more
Diane
My parents were always bragging about how their high school was the first in the state to have a swimming pool, but I never understood the significance of this part of their and my PE program until reading this book. The historical nature of it really held me spellbound, as it explained how swimming stroke, and lessons evolved. Incredible! When I was a child, everyone I knew knew how to swim. It was a given. But just two generations ago, it was not. Wow! How the world changes and even simple thi...more
Gina Kilgour
I was surprised how interesting the book was! (At first I thought it would be impossible to write an entire book about one sea crossing, but it was a lot more than that). Very well written. Loved it.
Gwendelyn Wensloff
As I found out from Young Woman and that Sea written by Glenn Stout, Trudy Ederle is a huge, usually unrecognized, piece of swimming history.
She created the bikini because it was more comfortable and she felt she swam faster in one with less drag! Being a water oriented person, I absolutely loved this book. I was especially interested in the sad sub-stories that were nicely intervaled throughout Trudy's story. Like the one about the ship carrying hundreds of people caught fire, hundreds of men,...more
K Baker
loved it! I think I will reread it. And I did sent a note to the author to say: THANKS!

...one chapter is her story, the next is about the science of it all or the history of swimming or the bigger picture, etc. I was so sad that the young woman seemed to struggle so much in her life. I was actually a bit jealous of her youth... going to the water each summer (but I had a swimming pass one summer...) I guess I got to a point where I did see the bitter with the sweet and realized I do like my own...more
Fran Abel
I loved this book. It provided all the things I love -- strong woman protagonist, history, sports, feminism, adventure -- all wrapped up into an interesting story by the author, Glenn Stout.

It's always difficult to imagine how far sports and women have come so this book served as an outstanding reminder of that. In the 1920's, at a time when people said women couldn't compete with men in swimming (or almost anything), Trudy Ederle proved them wrong. She successfully swam the English Channel as...more
Laurie
I love finding books like this that look interesting but then sort of blindside you with the quality of the writing and the originality of the subject. I knew nothing of the "early" history of swimming, or much about Channel swimming, either. Once I got past the tragedy early on, I had a hard time keeping my interest up, though. I can't really fault the subject, or the writing...it was just hard to keep going to the end. Perhaps I'll buy it when it comes out in paperback, rather than check it ou...more
Jean
I love stories of great accomplishment. Trudy's greatest victories always came during deluge and bad weather. A great lesson for us all. Only 1 in 10 who attempt to swim the English Channel have made it . Waters of the English Channel are rarely quiet-the surf claws at each coast with ferocity in the tides and currents. I enjoyed the facts of plate techtonics, lunar orbital cycles and the strategies to be successful. Some books are worth reading twice. I will definitely read this again. I found...more
CJ
At first I was a little irritated with Stout because he moved back and forth between telling Ederle's story and seemingly telling the stories of all the other swimmers. I quickly realized that he was setting the stage - it's impossible to understand someone's life story without understanding the time/space in which she lived.

I fell in love with Trudy Ederle and her drive to swim. Even though I knew she was going to make it, I found myself on pins and needles through those chapters. An inspiring...more
Danica
More like 3.5 stars. There were some really interesting facts in this book, and being a competitive swimmer in my past life, much of this story fascinated me. My biggest problem was with typos every few pages, and I guess the author's style of writing didn't grip me. My favorite was once she started her successful attempt at the crossing and on. I felt the writing got better at that point. Really interesting to learn about how taboo swimming for women was at the turn of the century - I really ha...more
Nancy
I still couldn't figure out what drove Trudy to do what she did. I had a hard time pulling out her personality. Her accomplishments were unfathomable. The first 5 mile open water swim she did with other young girls is what struck me however. A bunch of girls who normally swam short distances in pools got in cold water in the open ocean and swam 5 miles - even the 11 year old made it. Trudy was not the only amazing person in this story.
Chris
Loved it! Well written cronicle of Gertrude Ederle's life as she learns to swim, joins the WSA (womens swimming association) and helps to make women athletes visible and accepted! She was the first woman to swim The Channel (1926) and handily beat the 6 previous mens' records; due to using The American Crawl" or freestyle as we know it. Prior to her it had been swum by the 6 men using breaststroke and sidestroke! Imagine!!
Amanda
I never realized what an impact Trudy made on the woman's sports. Most of that was because so many women were gaining noterity around the same time that she wasn't marketed well enough. I also had very little understanding of the difficulties of swimming the English Channel. The author does a great job of storytelling--from letting us get to know Trudy, to the history of Channel swimmers, to the conditions they faced.
Amy
This story is so amazing. I had no idea the significance of Trudy Ederle being the first woman to swim the English Channel. I had no idea why swimming the Channel was such a big deal, but I certainly know now. This book puts SO many things into perspective, and the opening chapter is an example of this--so interesting. Loved it, and highly recommend it.
Audrey
Truly a great read, but first half of the book is terribly slow with a lot of technical information and background about swimming and weather patterns. I found it hard to get through but found that in the end it helped me appreciate just what a feat it was for this young woman to accomplish. Very inspirational.
Maria
This book was as much about the advancement of women's athletics and the popularity of swimming as it was about Trudy Ederle. All were things I didn't know anything about before so I found it to be a very interesting read. The editing was pretty poor however. . . lots of grammar errors.
Shari
Well paced and enjoyable. It gives a nice history of swimming in the US, open water swimming, and the issues women faced in swimming and sports. Also, a great book to read if you are looking for some motivation to get off the couch and venture into an open water swim.
Megan
An amazing story about the first woman to ever swim across the English Channel. Lots (almost too much) history of swimming, women's athletics, the evolution of swimming strokes, and the English Channel. Very interesting and something I knew nothing about.
Katherine Barrus
I found Trudy Ederle's story interesting and inspiring. I'm not going to swim the English Channel, but I am going to set more worthy goals and work hard to accomplish them. This is well researched and gave me a real feel for who Trudy was a person.
Jill
Really a 3.5.

The book should include the qualification that it is in many ways a history of women's swimming, not just TE's story.

One of the most powerful parts is the opening. Some mid section skimming, and an ending with some questions.
Solviej
I'd probably give the first have of this book just 3 stars. Mostly because the was a bit too much background information. The story of Trudy was facinating though, and once I got into the second half of the book I couldn't put it down.
Lenore
A fascinating look at the first woman to swim the English Channel, Gertrude Ederle. Her athletic feat opened the door for women and sports, around the world. If you're not familiar with her swimming achievement, don't miss this account.
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14545
Author of Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World (2009). Since becoming a full-time writer in 1993, Glenn Stout has written, ghostwritten or edited more than seventy books representing sales in excess of two million copies. Stout is also author of The Cubs, The Dodgers, Nine Months at Ground Zero, Yankees Century, Red Sox Century, and has ser...more
More about Glenn Stout...
The Best American Sports Writing 2012 Fenway 1912: The Birth of a Ballpark, a Championship Season, and Fenway's Remarkable First Year Red Sox Century: The Definitive History of Baseball's Most Storied Franchise The Best American Sports Writing 2013 The Best American Sports Writing 2003

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