Shirley May France Warmed Hearts

Shirley May France Warmed Hearts

The British press reported on the passing of Shirley May (France) Setters who wowed the international press in the 1940s.

The nearly 6-foot Somerset beauty was 16 when she first tried to cross the English Channel in 1949. According to reports on the swim, she was so determined that she bit a man trying to rescue her six miles from her goal.

Donald Setters Jr., one of her five children, recall, “We have literally thousands of articles from newspapers from all over the world about this girl from Somerset trying to swim the channel.”

She did not attempt to tackle the English Channel on a whim.

She properly built up to it swimming as a 10-year-old in Sandy Beach and, at the age of 14, swam 33 miles across Lake St Clear in Michigan. In 1948, she was the only woman to finish a 12-mile swim across Lake George, where only 15 finished in a field of 121. Foregoing the 1948 London Olympics, she attempted to swim across the English Channel on three separate occasions.

Her swims led people like Frank Sinatra, Ted Williams, Clark Gable, Joe Louis and Rocky Marciano to become her friends. The determination these men had in their own lives were clearly evident in their swimming counterpart. Her son remembers, “My mother was a very determined person and was very confident that she could do anything… and she wasn’t afraid of anything. [Her life] is truly an inspiring story about trying.”

And ultimately succeeding.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source