Mercedes Gleitz has been selected as Pioneer Honoree for the International Swimming Hall of Fame Class of 2013.
Her remarkable life is being commemorated in a documentary that is being filmed now. She was one of the most remarkable women of the 20th century.
In 1927, the relentless Londoner became the first English woman to swim the English Channel…on her eighth attempt.
She also tried to cross the North Channel several times, but all without success. Three times in 1928, Gleitze attempted the North Channel crossing of the Mull of Kintyre from Donaghadee, Ireland to Portpatrick, Scotland, each time ending hypothermic failure.
In 1928, Gleitz became the first person to swim the 12.8 km (8-mile) Strait of Gibraltar in 12 hours 50 minutes, starting in Tarifa, Spain and finishing in Punta Leona, Morocco.
She accomplished a variety of marathon swims in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa including setting a British female record of 10 hours 45 minutes for swimming in the Thames River in 1923. In 1929, she swam Lough Neagh in Ireland in 20+ hours. In 1930, she swam Hellespont in 2+ hours. In 1931, she swam across Galloway Bay in 19+ hours and across Sydney Harbor. She swam in Cape Town, South Africa in 1932 to bring the total number of marathon swims to an incredible 51 with 25 of her swims taking at least 26 hours to complete.
With the money she earned from her swims, she established the Mercedes Gleitze Home for the Homeless in Leicester, England which opened in 1933 until it was destroyed during World War II.
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