On a tug tossing nastily in the English Channel reporters kept up their sagging spirits by singing Yes! We Have No Bananas as they fought nausea in the face of a gathering storm. In the choppy, white-capped water a 19-year-old girl stroked steadily toward the invisible English coast, ignoring her father's pleas to give up. Trudy Ederle, the daughter of a New York butcher, had waded into the Channel seas of Cape Gris-Nez at 7:09 a.m., and she had no intention of giving up until she reached England to become the first woman to swim the Channel. At 9:40 p.m.—14 hours and 31 minutes later—Trudy stumbled ashore at Kingsdown. Foul weather had forced her to swim an estimated 35 miles to cross the 21-mile-wide Channel, yet Trudy had bettered the time of the five men who had swum the distance.
Trudy was welcomed home by Mayor Jimmy Walker, given a tumultuous ticker-tape reception and toured the country a national heroine. But the long hours in the Channel had affected her hearing, and by 1940 Gertrude Ederle was totally deaf. Undiscouraged, she has used both her talents and handicap to the best possible advantage: Trudy teaches swimming to the children of New York's Lexington School for the Deaf. "They feel I'm one of them," she explains, "and they trust me."