Journey Through the Waters: Daisy Ridley's Transformation into a Swimming Legend

The Birth of a CLASSIC: Gertrude Ederle's Historic Swim

History is full of great sporting moments, more than just feats worthy of record books. Sometimes they are wellsprings of legacy – the ‘did you see that?’ moments we are forever talking about. There is, for sure, the classic ‘nobody believed she could do this’ story. May I present the 1926 English Channel swim by the US champion swimmer Gertrude ‘Trudy’ Ederle. She didn’t just attempt it, she swam it. She didn’t just swim it, she swam it. In a record-breaking 14 hours and 34 minutes, she became the first woman to do the 21-mile trip. Which is why you will soon see Daisy Ridley in the Disney biopic The Young Woman and the Sea (working title) filling out those historic old-timey one-piece swimsuits.

From Silver Screen to Swimming Champion: Daisy Ridley's Preparation

More than just a performance was called for when Daisy Ridley stepped into the role of Trudy Ederle: in order to play Ederle, Ridley had to swim like Ederle. Ederle was one of the first people to swim the Channel; for this reason, to portray Ederle required Ridley to train like a swimmer – like one of the kind of champions who put in the hard yards. Ridley had to swim the distance, which meant that her feet touched the bottom of the earth as she moved through the water. Ridley’s performance was choreographed by her swim coach.

The CLASSIC Challenge: Training for the Role

She’s diving off the dock, learning to swim: Daisy Ridley is training with Sioban-Marie O’Connor, a former British competitor who has coached on the Junior Olympic national team Daisy Ridley’s eating habits were overhauled, too. Even her T-shirt was redesigned. As the human embodiment of Ederle, Ridley trained hard for the role.

The Historic Backdrop: The Legacy of Gertrude Ederle

Only then might you start to appreciate the amount of homework Ridley did herself to step into Ederle’s shoes. The youngest of 12 children of a Manhattan butcher, Ederle was born to work hard, not swim competitively, but the girl would swim her way into it. By age 12, she broke two world records, leading to an Olympic career, and in 1926, the swim across the English Channel. No one who knows Ederle’s legend could fail to see her indomitable winner’s spirit, and for this Ridley had to become her alter ego, in and out of the pool.

Reflections in the Water: The Impact of Ederle's Journey

Ederle’s swim was a culture-shifting phenomenon that echoed around the globe, reflecting far more than elite athletic achievement, it embodied the emergence of women as athletic, and thus social and cultural, equals. How else to explain the impact of her achievement that continues to date, reaching from Ederle’s time into Ridley’s? Ridley’s act is not just about copying a swim – it’s about resurrecting Ederle’s legacy as a pioneer against the odds, swimming forwards against the tide.

Swimming Across Time: Ridley's Culmination of Ederle's Legacy

In filling these shoes, Ridley did not learn how to swim the strokes – she learned how to swim the soul. Gertrude Ederle’s English Channel swim is a story about endurance, breaking the rules and empire-building. Ridley’s portrayal, after months of rehearsals and fitness training, will hopefully provide audiences with a window into the beating heart of a swimmer who swam her way into history.

Exploring the CLASSIC

The word ‘classic’ permeates this story in several ways. In the context of this piece, ‘classic’ refers to the epic quality of Ederle’s accomplishment, the enduring appeal of narratives featuring human bravery and spirit – and the traditional, hard-lined training and coaching regimens of champions. It references this classic act, animated by Ridley’s true-grit 2.0 transformation, to confirm the power of positivity, the purpose of landmark achievements, and the potency of cinema to revive the passions and possibilities of pioneers of inspiration. Ederle’s classic voyage – and now Ridley’s – persists in inspiring current and future generations to dive into the depths of their dreams and aspirations.

Jun 06, 2024
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