Who was the first Deaf person to swim the English Channel?

Since completing her English Channel swim yesterday Verity Green has been contacted by many to congratulate her and some have queried if she was the first Deaf woman to swim the channel. Green has got in touch with Two Big Ears to see if we could find out.

Verity Green

During our text conversation with Green she explained that another Deaf swimmer had planned to make the swim earlier in July but had postponed her event due to lack of training. They told Green that if she completed the swim then she would be the first Deaf British woman to complete the crossing.

When researching for our book Same Spirit Different Team, we came across much information about Deaf sports people and we were able to reassure Green that as far as records show, she is the first British Deaf woman to make a solo crossing of the English Channel.

The first Deaf woman to complete the swim, also happened to be the first ever woman to do so! Gertrude Ederle (1905-2003) was an American. She swam the English Channel in 1926 at the age of 20.

Gertrude Ederle – picture Wikipedia

Before that, Ederle was the first woman to swim the length of New York Bay, aged 15 and she won three medals at the Paris Olympics.

According to pbs.org Ederle’s hearing was lost after contracting measles as a child and then in her own words the channel swim left her “Stone Deaf”. You can read more about Ederle at pbs.org and xxx

In July 2014 a team of Deaf Irish women became the first Deaf team to complete the Channel swim by taking turns to swim in relay. They completed the journey in 14 hours and 10 minutes. More info and here

Irish Women’s Swim team – picture Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation

Other successful English Channel crossings by Deaf swimmers:

July 2016 Andrew Rees is the first British Deaf man to complete the crossing solo. Info and at the BBC

Andrew Rees – picture Channel Swimming Association

August 2017 Wesley Nolan, the first Deaf Irish person to swim solo. Irish Times

Wesley Nolan – picture Irish Post

It is possible that there are other Deaf swimmers who have completed the English Channel swim solo or as team – if you have this information please share below in the comments.

We will continue this feature on swimming SOON with an interview with English Channel swimmer Verity Green who is registered dual-sensory disabled as we ask her if she has considered competing in the Paralympics.

See you all soon!

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