By Nicole Conlan
September 11, 2014

On September 11, 1951, Florence Chadwick became the first woman to swim the English Channel the hard way.

MAY 31 1953; Chadwick, Florence; Florence Chadwick, who holds the women's record for swimming the English channel, isn't letting her work as a cross-country tour for a swim suit company interfere with her training for future swims. She spends four hours each day tied on the end of a rope to simulate swimming against currents and Saturday she worked out at the Town Club here. Her schedule for this summer includes tries in the Dardanelles on July 18, the straits of Gibraltar on July 30 and another try in the English Channel on Aug. 16.
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Sure, there's no easy way to swim across 30+ miles of open ocean, but Chadwick chose the particularly difficult route from England to France; that is, she swam against the current. She completed her journey in 16 hours, 22 minutes, becoming the first woman to swim the Channel the hard way, and setting a new world record -- for both male and female swimmers -- for the England-France journey.

Channel swimmer Florence Chadwick training at the Henry Hudson Hotel, England.
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Chadwick held records for all four of her English Channel crossings, as well as her crossing of the Straights of Gibraltar.

11th October 1955: Miss Florence Chadwick (1917 - 1995), a swimmer from San Diego in California, is being given a rub-down before entering the water at St Margaret's Bay near Dover, Kent for her attempt at a non-stop double crossing of the English channel. She first swam both ways from France to England in 1950 and from England to France in 1951 and 1955.
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Unconvinced that Florence Chadwick is one of the coolest athletes of all time? When she completed her first Channel crossing in 1950, the first thing she said when she got out of the water was, "I feel fine. I am quite prepared to swim back."

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