History of Women in




Swimming & Diving


1837- Swimming competitions were held in London.

1865- Matthew Vassar opened up the Vassar College with a special School of Physical Training with classes in swimming, that women were allowed to enter.

1873- Ten women competed in the mile-long swimming contest in the Harlem River. Deliliah Goboess won the prize, which was a silk dress.

1874- Teenager Agnes Beckwith, accomplished a long distance swim in the Thames River from London Bridge to Greenwich, a distance of about six miles.

1877- Eliza Bennett swam across the Hudson River.


1880- The Amateur Swimming Association of Great Britian was organized and held more than 300 club members.

1880- Distance swimmer Angus Beckwith treaded water for thirty hours in the whale tank of the Royal Aquarium in Westminster to equal a pervious mark set by a male.

1881- Edith Johnson of England set the world’s endurance indoor swimming record at thirty-one hours.


1910- Australia's Annette Kellerman was arrested for swimming in Boston Harbor in an "indecent" one-piece swimsuit for exposing her legs.

1911- Swimming and diving debuted at the Stockholm Olympic Games, with fifty-seven women from eleven nations competing in the games.

1914- The first national swimming championship was held with women allowed to register by the Amateur Athletic Union.

1916- Evelyn Burnett won the first United States Platform Diving Championship.

1916- Kay Curtis instituted synchronized swimming as an integral part of the University of Wisconsin's physical education program.

1917- Charlotte Epstein, rented one of New York City’s chlorinated pools and founded the Women's Swimming Association of New York, which was dedicated to competitive training for women.

1920- Fourteen-year old, Aileen Riggin won the first women's Olympic springboard diving competition.

1921- Gertrude Ederle at the age of fourteen, won an international three-mile swim in New York Bay against 50 of the best swimmers of America and England.

1924- Sybil Bauer was the first woman to break an existing men's world swimming record when she won the 100-meter backstroke at the Olympic games.

1926- New York City native Gertrude "Trudy" Ederle at the age of 19, was the first woman to swim the English Channel in fourteen hours, thirty-one minutes, beating the best time to date.

1926- Just three weeks after Ederle's successful Channel crossing, Mrs. Clemington Corson, of New York made the swim in 15.5 hours. Her record time beat all the men swimmers to date.

1931- Gloria Hollister Anable set a new depth record for women, descending 1,208 feet below the ocean in a bathysphere.

1932- Helene Madison became the first woman to swim the 100-yard freestyle in a minute.

1936- Swimmer Marjorie Gestring was the youngest-ever Olympic gold medalist in springboard diving at the age thirteen.

1939- The first synchronized swimming competition in the United States was a dual meet between Wright Junior College and the Chicago Teacher's College.

1941- The Amateur Athletic Union adopted synchronized swimming as an official competitive sport for duet and team events. The first Synchronized Swimming Championship was held March 1.

1950- Florence Chadwick, thirty-one, swam the English Channel and beating the record set by Gertrude Ederle in 1926.

1951- Pat McCormick was the first diver to ever win all five National Championships. She took a gold in springboard diving and a gold in platform diving.

1954- At the age of sixteen, Canadian Marilyn Bell was the first person to swim across Lake Ontario.

1955- The Pan American Games in Mexico City included synchronized swimming as an official event for the first time. The US won all three events.

1956- Pat McCormick was the first woman to win back-to-back springboard and platform diving events at the Olympics.

1960- Donna de Varona was the youngest member of the 1960 US Olympic swimming team at 13.

1965- Donna De Varona, a 1964 Olympic swimmer, was a founder of the Women's Sports Foundation.

1968- Swimmer Debbie Meyer won the AAU's James E. Sullivan Memorial Award. The year before she was named the Woman Athlete of the Year by the Soviet news agency, TASS.

1977- Camdian Comdy Nichols, at the age of nineteen, swam the English Channel in both directions just under twenty hours.

1978- Tracy Caulkins a US swimmer received the AAU James E. Sullivan Memorial Award.

1978- Penny Dean, at the age of thirteen, set an English Channel swimming record time of seven hours forty minutes.

1979- Dr. Sylvia Earle was the first person in the world to dive to a depth of 1,250 feet.

1984- Kelly McCormick earned an Olympic swimming silver medal, followed by a bronze in 1988. She was the daughter of Olympic medalist Pat McCormick and they are the only mother-daughter medals winning pair in the history of the Olympics.

1987- Lynne Cox was the first person to ever swim the Bering Strait from Alaska to the former Soviet Union.

1996- The US synchronized swimming team received a perfect score of 100 in the free routine to earn the first Olympic gold medal in team competition.

1997- The International Women's Sports Hall of Fame's Class of 1997 included Coach of synchronized swimming Gail Emery.

1997- Australian Susie Maroney was the first woman to swim the 104 miles between Cuba and Florida in under twenty-seven hours.

1999- There were sixteen new women's events planned for the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, some which included duet synchronized swimming and synchronized diving.


2000- Sixteen-year old Megan Quann broke the American record for the 100-meter breaststroke for the third time in four months at the National Swimming Championships.

2000- Laura Wilkinson at the age of twenty-two, took America’s first Olympic gold in thirty-six years on the ten-meter diving platform.

2000- “The Breakfast of Champions” featured Olympic swimmer Brooke Bennett.

2000- Coach Chris Carver was inducted into the International Women’s Sports Hall of Fame.

2004- Viola Cady Krahn at the age of 102 was inducted into the International Masters Swimming Hall of Fame. She competed in meets until she was 101.


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