The Perfect Woman Was A Swimmer

The Perfect Woman Was A Swimmer

Mary Williamson won a contest for the “most perfect specimen of English womanhood” at the age of 19. That contest, organized in 1913, led within months to her marriage to the contest’s organizer Bernarr Macfadden.

Mary was one of the top swimmers of her generation, winning dozens of swims in her native England. The attraction between the two could have been been linked to their familiarity with and passion of swimming.

While Mary had won dozens of swims in her native England by the age of 19, Bernarr had founded the Coney Island Polar Bear Club in 1903. Bernarr believed that ocean swimming during the winter enhanced one’s stamina, virility and immunity – and that Mary was the perfect example of the ideal female form.

Bernarr later toured England with Mary billing themselves as the world’s healthiest man and woman: two early and strong proponents of swimming.

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