Giving So Much And Then Giving Back Even More

Giving So Much And Then Giving Back Even More

Mercedes Gleitze was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honour Swimmer in 1969.

And rightly so for Gleitze was a remarkable individual.

In 1927, the relentless Londoner became the first English woman to swim the English Channel…on her eighth attempt.

She then tried to cross the North Channel several times 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. On her last attempt, she was taken from the water in an unconscious state after she had swum 16 miles.

In 1928, Gleitze traveled down to Spain and became the first person to swim the 12.8km (8-mile) Strait of Gibraltar in 12 hours 50 minutes where she started in Tarifa, Spain and finished in Punta Leona, Morocco.

History shows that she did at least 51 marathon swims throughout Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. She set 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.

While media attention showered upon her, it was truly her post marathon swimming career where the professional marathon swimmer had a significant impact. 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.

A documentary is currently being filmed on her unparalleled life (see photo above).

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones