Born in New York; became hard of hearing from childhood measles. Swam in the 1924 Olympics, winning a gold medal in the 4x100 relay and bronze medals in the 100- and 400-meter freestyle events. Became the first woman to swim across the English Channel, in 1926 (after a failed 1925 attempt). Press claims that she became permanently deaf immediately after her Channel swim, from the stress of the swim in rough water and strong currents, and from ear infections contracted in the cold water, are incorrect as she was already hard of hearing. Became a professional swimmer and instructor and a fashion designer. A tripping accident in 1933 dislocated her spine and she spent 4 years in a body cast; her hearing also deteriorated further. She had to re-learn how to walk and swim again, but recovered enough to appear in the 1939 New York World's Fair aquatic show, which was her last swimming exhibition. During World War II, she worked as an aircraft mechanic, then post-war taught deaf children to swim. Died at age 98 in a Wycoff, NJ nursing home from cardiac arrest.
Encyclopedia of Women and Sports, p.88-90; Encyclopedia of Women and Sport in America, p.80-81; Washington Post, Dec. 3, 2003, p.B6 (obituary); Deaf Women, p.164.
1905?-30 November 2003