Myrtle Huddleston

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Myrtle Huddleston was an American open water swimmer who learned how to swim late in life and then continued on to a remarkable marathon swimming career.



Huddleston learned how to swim at the age of 30 in 1926.


At the age of 31, she entered the Wrigley Ocean Marathon in January 1927 lasting 7 hours. Within a month, she became the third person in history to swim across the Catalina Channel. Her 20+ mile swim from Avalon Beach on Santa Catalina Island to San Pedro on the California mainland took 20 hours 42 minutes on 5 February 1927.


Huddleston, a member of the 24-hour club, won an ocean swimming championship at Del Ray Beach, Florida in 1928 when she swam for 31 hours 18 minutes. She also swam non-stop for 50 hours 10 minutes on 21 May 1928 in a Chicago pool, breaking the world record by 4 hours 10 minutes of Otto Kemmerich of Germany. Her swim was observed by 12 officials for which she won US$5,000.


She attempted an English Channel swim that lasted 21 hours in 1929. Video can be seen here at British Pathé.


At the age of 34, she swam 22 hours 53 minutes, winning US$700 on 24 August 1931 for becoming the first person to swim across the width of Lake Tahoe, a distance of 10.48 miles from Deadman's Point in Nevada to Tahoe City.

She became the world’s champion female endurance swimmer by 1931 when her marathon swim in a Coney Island pool lasted 60 hours 2 minutes. She later set the women’s world endurance record by staying afloat for 87 hours 48 minutes on 21 April 1931.


She is the namesake of a Myrtle Huddleston Honorary Swim scheduled for 17 August 2013, organized by Karen Rogers.

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