America’s Champion Swimmer written by David Adler and illustrated by Terry Widener is an inspiring story about Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel. Ederle swam since she wasa small child, and was part of the 1924 U.S. Olympic Team that competed in Paris. She one three medals at the Olympics and by 1925 had set twenty-nine U.S. and world records for swimming. But there was still one more challenge she had not yet faced: the English Channel. More than twenty miles wide, often rough and choppy, and bitterly cold, the Channel had never before been conquered by a woman. Of the many men and women who had made the attempt, only five men had successfully completed the swim, which because of rough waters, usually turns out to be much longer than 20 miles. Gertrude’s first attempt to swim the Channel in 1925 was unsuccessful, but that didn’t stop her from trying again the next year. As it turned out, that day in August, 1926 was her moment.
Mermaid Queen written by Shana Corey and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham tells the story of Annette Kellerman, a swimmer from Australia who made waves all over the world. Born twenty years before Gertrude Ederle, Annette Kellerman not only swam, but did amazing dives and something new that people hadn’t seen before–water ballet. In 1905, Annette made an unsuccessful attempt to swim across the English Channel. She was the first woman to make such an attempt, and at that time only one man had successfully swam the Channel. While Annette never managed to swim the Channel, she did inspire numerous women with her courage and perseverence. Not only did Annette swim, she also designed swimsuits for women which were sleeker, freer and much easier to wear.