Diane Struble in 1959. How Times Have Changed In The Open Water
In the Philadelphia Inquirer on August 16th 1959, it was reported that a 26-year-old mother of 3 children (ages 3, 5 and 6) completed a 11 hour 27 minute circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island.
The article reported that the Diane Struble “was dissuaded from trying a second round trip and a crowd of 1,000 cheered Struble as she stepped ashore.” She later said, “I feel I could go around again, but they won’t let me” as she swam breaststroke most of the way.
The brief article from 1959 was a bit surprising for a few reasons:
- There are few contemporary 26-year-old single mothers with three children who are active marathon swimmers.
- Multiple Manhattan Island circumnavigation swims are now routinely attempted and completed a la Julie Ridge‘s double in 1983, Stacy Chanin‘s triple in 1984, and Jaimie Monahan‘s quadruple in 2020.
- Although there have been exceptions (namely, Marcos Díaz in 2007), a crowd of 1,000 cheering for a marathon swimmer at the finish in Manhattan Island is rare.
- Breaststroke marathon swims are rare (but they are achieved every so often a la Alan Jay Morrison).
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