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Florence Chadwick Biography

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Florence Chadwick.Channel Swimmer, US, 1918-1995

Florence Chadwick was a typist and swimming coach from California, who, at the age of thirty-two, became the first woman to successfully swim the English Channel in both directions.

Chadwick made ten attempts at swimming the Channel and was successful four times. She also became the first woman to swim from England to France in 1951; she swam from St. Margaret's Bay to Sangatte.

Chadwick's three England to France swims each took the record for the fastest time. She swam the Channel in 16 hours and 22 minutes in 1951. By 1955, her swim only took 13 hours 55 minutes.

Chadwick performed two other major long-distance swims. In 1952 she swam the 21 miles from Catolina Island to Palos Verdes, CA, in 13 hours, 47 minutes, and 32seconds, breaking a record that had been set in 1927, and in 1953 she swam the Straights of Gibralter in a record 5 hours and 6 minutes. In both cases, she broke records set by male swimmers.

When Chadwick reached the shore at Dover, England, on August 8, 1950, after swimming France to England in a record 13 hours and 23 minutes, she said "I am quite prepared to swim back." Consequently during her last three successful swims Chadwick also attempted to swim there-and-back, but gave up on the return legs.

Chadwick's attempts England to France:

  • 10 September 1951 (success)
  • 2 August 1953 (failed)
  • 15 August 1953 (failed)
  • 4 September 1953 (success)
  • 15 August 1955 (failed)
  • 23 September 1955 (failed)
  • 26 September 1955 (failed)
  • 12 October 1955 (success)

Chadwick's attempts France to England:

  • 26 July 1950 (failed)
  • 8 August 1950 (success)




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