This day in sports: Gertrude Ederle becomes first woman to swim English Channel

Nineteen-year-old Gertrude Ederle becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel.
Gertrude Ederle, 19, becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel on Aug. 6, 1926, crossing the waterway in 14 hours 31 minutes.
(Associated Press)

Gertrude Ederle, 19, of New York City was the first woman to swim the English Channel on this date in 1926 when she crossed the 21-mile waterway in 14 hours 31 minutes from Cape Gris-Nez, France, to Dover, England.

Ederle entered the water, which was cold but unusually calm, at just after 7 a.m. Between noon and 6 p.m., she encountered squalls, and her coach T.W. Burgess, a skilled ocean swimmer, urged her to stop. But her father, Henry Ederle, and sister Margaret, who were riding in a boat with Burgess, agreed that Ederle should keep going.

Ederle’s father had promised her a new roadster at the conclusion of the swim, and he used the car as a motivation that it was hers only if she finished.

Ederle endured through storms and heavy swells and finally at 9:04 p.m. reached the English coast. She became just the sixth person to swim the Channel and her time was two hours better than the previous record.


A look at some of the top sports moments to have occurred on Aug. 3, including Mary Lou Retton capturing the women’s all-round gymnastics title in 1984.

Aug. 3, 2020

More memorable games and outstanding sports performances on Aug. 6 through the years:

1966 — Muhammad Ali knocked out Brian London of Britain at 1:40 of the third round to retain his world heavyweight title at Earls Court Arena in London. London stunned Ali with a left jab to the jaw midway through the first round, but the champion recovered to land a third-round combination of 12 punches in three seconds, the 10th hard enough to knock down the challenger and end the fight.

1978 — John Mahaffey beat Tom Watson and Jerry Pate with a birdie on the second hole of a sudden death playoff to win the PGA Championship at Oakmont Country Club on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. Watson, who at one time led Mahaffey by seven shots, squandered a four-shot lead after nine holes, and Pate, who took the lead on the 71st hole, lost it when he missed a four-foot putt on the 72nd.

1979 — David Graham of Australia rebounded from a double-bogey six on the final hole in regulation to beat Ben Crenshaw with a birdie two on the third hole of a playoff and won the PGA Championship at Oakland Hills Country Club in Birmingham, Mich. Coming into the final hole, Graham, 33, needed only a bogey to win the tournament. But he overshot the green, muffed a chip from the fringe and missed a four-foot putt that put him in a tie with Crenshaw at eight under-par 272.

1991 — Debbie Doom of the United States struck out 17 batters when she pitched her second-straight perfect game in a softball tournament at the Pan American Games in Havana, Cuba. Doom threw a perfect game against the Netherlands Antilles in the opener of the tournament and matched that performance when she blanked Nicaragua 8-0.

1992 — Carl Lewis led a sweep by the United States in the long jump at the Barcelona Summer Olympics when he landed in the sand pit at 28 feet, 5½ inches on his first attempt. Mike Powell took the silver medal and Joe Greene won the bronze. In wrestling, Bruce Baumgartner became the first American freestyler to win medals in three-straight Olympics when he won the gold in the 286-pound competition.


1994 — Jeff Gordon, 23, won the inaugural Brickyard 400 when he finished first in the i NASCAR Cup series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. In the closing miles of the 160-lap event, Gordon, driving a Chevrolet, battled Ernie Irvan in a Ford, with the lead changing hands four times before Gordon got in front for good after Irvan blew a tire with five laps to go.

1999 — On his mother’s 63rd birthday, Tony Gwynn singled to right-center field off of Don Smith in his first at-bat and became the 22nd big league player to reach 3,000 hits, when the San Diego Padres beat the Montreal Expos 12-10 at Olympic Stadium. Gwynn, who went four for five in the game, had collected his 2,000th hit on the same date six years earlier in 1993.

Memorable moments in sports that occurred on July 25, including Edwin Moses of the United States setting a world record at the 1976 Summer Games.

July 25, 2020

2008 — Kim Terrell-Kearney of Dover, Del., won the first professional championship match featuring two Black bowlers when she beat Trisha Reid of Columbus, Ohio, 216-189 in the U.S. Women’s Open at Romeoville, Ill. Terrell-Kearney built an early lead and hung on to collect her second U.S. Women’s Open win and third career major title.

2010 — Tyson Gay upset Usain Bolt in the 100-meter dash at an international meet in Stockholm, handing the defending world and Olympic champion his first defeat in two years. Gay, from Louisville, Ky., sprinted to a winning time of 9.84 seconds, while the Jamaican, looking rather pedestrian, finished in 9.97, almost four-tenths of a second slower than the world record he set the previous year in Berlin.

SOURCES: The Times, Associated Press