It was 3 AM on October 5, 1958. Greta Andersen emerged onto the beach from the icy surf at The California coast’s Emerald Bay is bleeding, bruised, and cold-numbingly cold. This was reported by The Los Angeles Times a year later.
Nearly 27 hours had passed since she got in the water and she had swam more than 46 mile, making her the first swimmer to make the entire trip from Long Beach to Long Beach. Her husband, John Sonnichsen, had followed her in a rowboat. He was fast asleep when they met on the cabin cruiser, which took them back to their home at the crack of dawn.
Ms. Andersen, a Danish-born Olympic champion and elite swimmer who then found greater fame as a star of long-distance open water swimming — often besting her male competitors — died on Feb. 6 at Solvang, Calif. was her home. 95.
World Open Water Swimming Association reported her untimely death.
Bruce Wigo (ex-president of the International Swimming Hall of Fame), has called Ms. Andersen “the greatest female swimmer ever.” She set 18 world marathon records and was awarded the lifetime achievement trophy in 2015. “She often beat all of the men,” He said.
However, in the simple newspaper parlance of her time, she was called more frequently the Danish mermaid. This could be a Long Beach woman, a Danish pastry or a Great Dane.
In 1957 and 1958, she was also the first female to cross five sections of the English Channel. She was also the first person to be able to race it two times in one row. (The first woman to swim the English Channel was Gertrude Ederle, a New Yorker born to German immigrants, who did so in 14½ hours in 1926, breaking the records of the five men who had preceded her.)
It was in its prime at In the mid-century, thousands of people watched open water swimming. All over the globe, women and men competed in open water swimming races. As they are today, these races can be dangerous and difficult. Competitors battled swift tides, strong currents, enormous waves, chilly water, all manner of wildlife — sharks, jellyfish and even whales — seasickness and the dark.
According to Ned Denison who is the chairman of International, it can cause soul crushing. Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame: When the sun sets.
Her second crossing of English Channel was in 1958. It was particularly brutal. She was seasick and dizzy by the fourth mile — the channel is about 21 miles wide, but tides and cross currents can add to the distance — and as she neared the coast of Dover, a powerful current held her captive.
To cover 300 meters, it took her over an hour.
“I felt like giving up,” She told The Associated Press: “but my husband chalked on a blackboard to me to read, ‘Hi Greta, you can’t give up. All the other girls are still in there swimming.’”
Ms. Andersen was the only woman who completed that swim, Mr. Denison stated. Five of the 29 competing swimmers were disqualified. Ms. Andersen finished first in the event, swimming for 11 hours, one minute. This was more than four times faster than the nearest competitor. The swimmer was followed closely by four other men. One of them was disqualified due to being in the wrong spot.
However, Ms. Andersen came in just 10 minutes short of the record set in 1950 by Hassan Abdel Rehim in Egypt.
It was a late start for her, as she had learned to swim when she was a teenager. at 1945 saw the end of Nazi occupation in her country. She was a natural, able to swim 50 meters without breathing — she often said it was because she didn’t know any better.
Star already, Ms. Andersen at Denmark when she represented Denmark at home at The 1948 Olympics were held in London. They were the first to take place after the twelve-year wartime hiatus. In the 100-meter freestyle she was awarded a gold medal and in the 400m relay she received a silver.
However, she nearly drowned in the 400-meter Freestyle. To prevent her period, the team doctor gave her an injection. she said later that she had no idea what was in the syringe. She almost died. As she neared the finish of the race she fell unconscious and plummeted to the bottom.
After returning home as a star, she continued breaking records. In 1949, she set a new world record in the 400-meter. Although she competed at the 1952 Olympics, Helsinki (Finland) was her home, and she had undergone knee surgery to remove cysts. She did not win any medals.
She was both a champion and a realist. While she was rewarded with flowers and glory once in her life, it wasn’t enough to buy money. She immigrated to America in 1953 to seek out opportunities. The lucrative open water swimming (also known as marathon swimming) could prove to be very profitable. She settled down in Long Beach, California, in order to pursue this pursuit.
Greta Marie Andersen, the youngest of two children, was born to Peter Andersen in Copenhagen May 1, 1927. Her father was a gymnast, who had won a silver medal at the 1906 Intercalated Games in Athens.
Greta She was twelve when the Nazis took over Denmark in spring 1940. Because her parents were afraid she would be raped, they cut her hair short and made her look like a boy during the five-year occupation. Her father then encouraged her to learn how to swim at a community pool. Else Jacobsen, an Olympian herself, saw her talents and was her coach.
She divorced Mr. Sonnichsen after their marriage, which was a marriage with a high-school football coach and her former trainer. Her husband Andre Veress is her survivor.
In Los Alamitos (Calif.), she managed a swim school and health spa that taught swimming for students of all ages.
Ms. Andersen was largely undefeated, with one notable exception: the Molokai Channel — otherwise known as the Kaiwi Channel, or the Channel of Bones — a punishing crossing of 27 miles between the islands of Molokai and Oahu, Hawaii.
In January and April 1961, Ms. Andersen tried it again. On her second swim, which she began just after midnight, she battled sharks — she swam for a time in a specially designed cage — and was bumped by porpoises. Seasickness set in after she was swept by waves 20 feet high. Rain squalls were also common. It was the current, however that won her the battle in the end. The current fought her for nine hours until her crew pulled the boat out of her. at 11:06 that evening, still 9½ miles from Oahu. The swimmer had been swimming almost 24 hours.
She had attracted a stony crowd on the shore and in the water, as she always has.
A witness compared her stroke to a hamster wheel “to watching a gandy dancer drive railroad spikes,” Honolulu Star-Bulletin reported. Rip Yeager declared that she was captain of a yacht which was part of her support group. “I take my hat off to her. That woman has more courage than most 10 men I’ve seen. She’s got just plain guts. She’s a real woman in every sense.”
Sheelagh MacNeill Contributed research