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!

Is the future looking brighter for British Deaf athletes?

Been a while since my last post; took a break as things were getting rather depressing with regards to the governance of Deaf sport internationally.

But there was some good news today from UK Deaf Sport on the performance funding support given to Deaf world swimming champion Danielle Joyce. This groundbreaking decision by Sterling University to recognise the achievements and potential of british Deaflympians suggests that the future could be promising for deaf children and young people who aspire to be high performance athletes.

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 Joyce, a first year student at Sterling University receives funding support and academic flexibility to enable her coaches to design the preparation programme that is going to give her the best chances of performing at the highest level in both her sport and studies.

The Winning Students scholarships are an annual award available to full-time and part-time students at college or university. The funding can be used to cover costs that ease the burden of being able to concentrate fully on training and studies without the negativity that comes with the pressures of having to raise funds. The scholarship can be used to cover accommodation, competition fees and sports equipment.

By working with Scottish Governing Bodies of Sport and sportscotland Institute of Sport the grant funding complements other existing forms of support. The scholarship has eleven core sports and the governing bodies nominate students for awards whilst the Individual Scholarships offer athletes in other sports the chance to get support.

UK Deaf Sport Ambassador Joyce is adapting to a new programme and has been told that she should not expect any big improvements immediately. But she is already reaping the benefits that have eluded so many of her deaf peers. Her preparations for the World Deaf Swimming Championships are already on track for the 17th – 22nd August in San Antonio, Texas.

The scholarship is available to:

  • British passport holders and able to compete for either Scotland or Great Britain
  • Studying or set to study at a college/university in the Winning Students network
  • 16 to 35 years olds for disabled athlete scholarships and the upper age limits are flexible.
  • Athletes who meet sporting criteria outlined for each sport.

Schools and sports clubs should now be identifying talented deaf athletes and working together with UK Deaf Sport and national governing bodies to put forward applications to Winning Students in order that young deaf people can now take the chance to realise their sporting dreams.