Module 12: America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Enderle

Module 12: America’s Champion Swimmer: Gertrude Enderle


Adler, D. (2000). America’s champion swimmer: Gertrude Enderle. New York: Harcourt.


This is the story of Gertrude Enderle who swam the English Channel in 1926. She was not only the first woman to accomplish the feat but also beat the existing men’s record. The story is well told and the pictures create the sense of being in the past. Gertrude Enderle’s achievements are inspiring and encouraging.

What Did I Think?

This book reminded me of Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride because they both evoke a sense of the past and both highlight extraordinary women during times when women were expected to be anything by extraordinary. Gertrude Enderle’s story demonstrates bravery and courage. The story begins by explaining that a woman’s place was thought to be in the home but that Gertrude’s place was in the water. I enjoyed the way she learned to swim and believe that many students would connect with her fears and be inspired by her determination.


Publishers Weekly (August 22, 2005)

“Text and art offer a compelling, in-depth account of the adult Ederle’s crossing of the English Channel,” said PW. “Kids will dive right in.” Ages 6-9. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

From School Library Journal

Kindergarten-Grade 4-This picture-book biography covers the life of Gertrude Ederle, highlighting her world-record breaking, long-distance swims. In 1926, women were thought to be the weaker sex, but this indomitable young athlete broke the men’s record by two hours when she swam the English Channel. Fascinating tidbits about her 21-mile swim will entice readers: “She floated on her back and ate chicken and drank beef broth.” For her victory, she was rewarded with a ticker-tape parade and a letter from President Coolidge calling her “America’s Best Girl.” More information about her life is appended. In the acrylic paintings, characters with large bodies and small heads, suggesting Depression-era art, are set on impressionistic backgrounds. The pictures of the swirling, rough water add fluidity and motion, and the perspectives that show the small figure of the swimmer in the vast sea capture the immensity of Ederle’s endeavor. Attractive formatting and large type make this story of achievement as effective and as inspiring to read aloud as this team’s Lou Gehrig: The Luckiest Man (1997) and The Babe & I (1999, both Gulliver).
Jean Gaffney, Dayton and Montgomery County Public Library, OH 
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Library Lesson
This book would be an excellent addition to a display celebrating the achievements of women. It could be highlighted during Women’s History Month along with titles such as Amelia and Eleanor Go For a Ride and Basketball Belles.

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