Gertrude Ederle: Stout’s 'Young Woman and the Sea' Adapted for May Movie Release

Gertrude Ederle: Stout’s ‘Young Woman and the Sea’ Adapted for May Movie Release

“Young Woman and the Sea” is set to hit theaters on May 31, 2024, bringing the story of Gertrude “Trudy” Ederle, the first woman to swim across the English Channel, to the big screen. Directed by Joachim Rønning and featuring Daisy Ridley as Ederle, this film delves deep into the physical and societal currents that shaped Ederle’s historic 1926 swim.

At the 1924 Paris Olympics, Gertrude Ederle captured a gold medal with the US 4×100 meter freestyle relay team, setting a world record time of 4:58.8 alongside teammates Euphrasia Donnelly, Ethel Lackie, and Mariechen Wehselau. She also earned bronze medals in both the women’s 100-meter and 400-meter freestyle races. Following these victories, the U.S. Olympic team was celebrated with a ticker-tape parade.

In 1925, Ederle transitioned to a professional swimming career. That same year, she completed a 22-mile swim from Battery Park to Sandy Hook in 7 hours and 11 minutes, setting a record that remained unbroken for 81 years until Australian swimmer Tammy van Wisse surpassed it.

In 1925, after the Women’s Swimming Association sponsored her and Helen Wainwright for an English Channel attempt, Gertrude Ederle went to France alone following Wainwright’s withdrawal due to injury. Trained by Jabez Wolffe, who had failed the Channel swim 22 times, Ederle was disqualified during her initial attempt due to Wolffe’s controversial decision to have her pulled from the water, which sparked rumors he sabotaged her success. Ederle then trained under Bill Burgess, successfully crossing the Channel from Cape Gris-Nez to Kingsdown, Kent, in 14 hours and 34 minutes on August 6, 1926. This record, which bested previous male records, stood until 1950. Upon her return, Ederle was celebrated with a massive ticker-tape parade in Manhattan, drawing over two million attendees.

Produced by Walt Disney Pictures and Jerry Bruckheimer Films, and based on Glenn Stout’s comprehensive biography Young Woman And The Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World, the movie explores Ederle’s journey from her training sessions to crossing the English Channel. The narrative pays particular attention to her challenges, not only the physical toll but also the societal resistance she faced during an era marked by significant gender discrimination.

Daisy Ridley was trained to portray Ederle, working alongside Olympic medalist Siobhan-Marie O’Connor to capture the essence of a competitive swimmer from the 1920s. The film’s portrayal is enriched by a strong supporting cast, including Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Ederle’s sister and Christopher Eccleston as her initially unsupportive coach, Jabez Wolffe.

Shot on location in Bulgaria and the Black Sea, the film avoids the use of CGI to authentically depict open-water swimming conditions, adding a layer of realism to Ridley’s performance and the film’s visual narrative.

See also: A Rare and Remarkable Letter from Gertrude ‘Trudy’ Ederle to Julie Ridge “Good Sportsmanship is Greater Than Victory!”