The Great Swim

The Epic Tale of the Race to Conqueror the Channel

by Gavin Mortimer

  • Published: 02 Jul 2009
  • Price: £8.99
  • Format: Paperback
  • Extent: 304p
  • ISBN: 9781906021382
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In the aftermath of the Great War when the world was still trying to bury its wounds, one story captivated Europe and America – the battle between four young women to be the first to conquer the formidable waters of the English Channel.

Newspapers from Paris to New York engaged in rivalries nearly as competitive as the swimmers themselves, each backing a favourite which only fuelled the frenzy – Gertrude Ederle and Lilian Cannon, the two frontrunners, were sponsored by tabloid barons who used increasingly titillating photographs of them in their respective papers to drive circulation.

But ultimately it was the sheer physical determination and courage of the women themselves, as they battled the weather, the odds and each other, that made this swim one of history’s greatest sporting moments.

“Mortimer tells this story with a verve that pulls the reader in like a high tide” – Washington Post

“Mortimer’s book, narrated with pacy enthusiasm and highlighted by the achievements of four largely forgotten heroines, is a fascinating and irresistible slice of sporting history.” – The Daily Mail

“Mortimer’s deft, uncomplicated prose emerges as the perfect vessel for the story…his thorough research provides a cultural context as striking as his narrative.” – Times Literary Supplement

“Mortimer’s story of the grit of these women cracks along like a Channel tide…his descriptions of the caprice of the ribbon of water that defeated so many are compelling.” – The Daily Telegraph

About Gavin Mortimer

Gavin Mortimer was born in London and now lives in Montpellier in the south of France. He began writing full-time in 1996 and has contributed to a broad cross-section of publications, from Esquire to the BBC History Magazine and the Observer. His previous books on Lord Stirling’s men and the Blitz were published in the UK.