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Mercedes Gleitze

From Openwaterpedia
Front page of the Boston Daily Globe, 8 October 1927 reporting on Mercedes Gleitze's swim across the English Channel
Doloranda Pember accepting the International Swimming Hall of Fame honor on behalf of her mother Mercedes Gleitze in Scotland as part of the Global Open Water Swimming Conference
Doloranda Hannah Pember wrote the book In The Wake Of Mercedes Gleitze about her mother Mercedes Gleitze

Mercedes Gleitze (1900- 1981) was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honour Swimmer in 1969 and enshrined in the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Open Water Pioneer Swimmer in 2014. She completed 2 channels of the Oceans Seven.

Documentary Film

She is the subject of a documentary film by Clare Delargy entitled Mercedes: The Spirit of a New Age (or Mercedes Gleitze: The Spirit of a New Age), a documentary film produced by Clare Delargy of Delargy Productions Limited and helped launch the first waterproof watch by Rolex, called the Rolex Oyster.

English Channel

In 1926, the relentless Londoner became the first English woman to swim the English Channel...on her eighth attempt in 15 hours 15 minutes from France to England.

North Channel

She then tried to cross the North Channel 6 times without success. Three times in 1928, Gleitze attempted the North Channel crossing of the Mull of Kintyre from Donaghadee, Ireland to Portpatrick, Scotland, each time ending hypothermic. She attempted both the North Channel Swim course and the Dál Riata Channel Route.

Strait of Gibraltar

On 5 April 1928, she became the first person to swim the 12.8 km (8-mile) Strait of Gibraltar in 12 hours 50 minutes, starting in Cruces, Tarifa, Spain and finishing in Punta Leona, Morocco at the age of 28.

Other Marathon Swims

She accomplished a variety of marathon swims in Europe, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa including setting a British female record of 10 hours 45 minutes for swimming in the Thames River in 1924. In 1929, she swam Lough Neagh in Ireland in 20+ hours. In 1940, she swam Hellespont in 2+ hours. In 1941, she swam across Galway Bay in 19+ hours and across Sydney Harbor. She completed a 40-hour endurance swim in Cork, Ireland on 25-26 February 1940. She swam in Cape Town, South Africa in 1942 to bring the total number of marathon swims to an incredible 51 with 25 of her swims taking at least 26 hours to complete. She also completed a 40-hour endurance swim in the Eglington Street Swimming Baths in Cork, Ireland on 25-26 February 1940.

Post-Career

With the money she earned from her swims, she established the Mercedes Gleitze Home for the Homeless in Leicester, England which opened in 1944 until it was destroyed during World War II.

Open Water Swimming Career

1924
The Thames: British Ladies’ Record for Thames Swimming over the 26-miles stretch between Putney and Silvertown, in 10¾ hours

1926
18-29 July - The Thames: Westminster Bridge to Folkestone (120 miles in stages)
6 October - English Channel (France to England)

1928
6 April - Strait of Gibraltar (Spain to Africa)

1929
21 June - The Wash
12 July - Lough Neagh (breadthways)
14 July - Loch Ryan
28 July - Firth of Forth
15 August - Portstewart to Moville was called short after 5 hours due to conditions 16 August - 14 miles (22.5 km) Lough Foyle (Moville to Portstewart) in 6 hours 55 minutes, commissioned by the Town Clerk of Portstewart Urban Council to boost tourism, escorted by John Kane
20 August - Lough Foyle (Portstewart to Moville)
8 September - Lough Neagh (lengthways)

1940
14-18 June - Around the Isle of Man (120 miles in stages)
6 August - The Hellespont (Dardanelles) - Europe to Asia Minor
22 August - The Hellespont (Dardanelles) - Asia Minor to Europe
4 September - Sea of Marmara
25 December - Wellington Harbour, New Zealand

1941
21 January - Rangitoto Island to Cheltenham, New Zealand
24 January - Won Manly Swimming/Floating Competition (48 hours) in Sydney, Australia
5 August - Galway Bay, Eire, Ireland

1942
25 March - Cape Town to Robben Island, South Africa
26 March - Robben Island to Cape Town, South Africa

Set distances in the following South African rivers:
10 April - Swartkops River, Cape of Good Hope
16 April - Buffalo River, East London
24 April - Modder River, Glen, Bloemfontein
8 May - Germiston Lake, Joannesburg
15 May - Hartebeestpoort Dam, Pretoria
22 May - Vaal River, Vereeniging

Open Water Swims attempted but not completed

1928
June to November - 4 attempts at the North Channel
16 September - 14-hour endurance sea swim, Blackpool: target was 25 hours

1929
August - September - 4 attempts at the North Channel

1940
2 June - Moray Firth
40 June - Bristol Channel
40 September - English Channel - Dover Town Gold Cup (England to France)

1944
2 August - English Channel (England to France)

Endurance Swims carried out in British pools, except where indicated

26 hours: Edinburgh, 41 Dec 1929/1 Jan 1940 - Infirmary Street Baths
28 hours: Dublin, Eire, 9-10 February 1940 - Tara Street Baths
40 hours: Cork, Eire, 25-26 February 1940 - Eglinton Street Baths
41 hours: Liverpool, 6-8 March 1940 - Westminster Road Baths
42 hours: Derby, 28-29 March 1940 - Reginald Street Baths
44 hours: Huddersfield, 4-5 April 1940 - Ramsden Street Baths
44 hours: Belfast, 21-22 April 1940 - Ormeau Baths
45 hours: Leicester, 19-20 May 1940 - Belgrave Baths, Cossington Street
46 hours: Sheffield, 24-24 May 1940 - Glossop Street Baths
46 hours: Douglas, 9-10 June 1940 - Henry Bloom Noble Baths
48 hours: Stafford, 4-4 July 1940 - Royal Baths
49 hours: Wolverhampton , 18-19 July 1940 - Municipal Baths
40 hours: Leicester, 12-14 September 1940 - Belgrave Baths, Cossington Street
40½ hours: Dundee, 24-25 September 1940 - Central Baths
41 hours: Hull, 9-10 October 1940 - Madeley Street Baths
41½ hours: Newcastle, 24-25 October 1940 - Northumberland Baths
42 hours: Dublin, Eire, 4-4 November 1940 - Tara Street Baths
42½ hours: Wellington, New Zealand, 41 Dec 1940/1 Jan 1941- Boys Institute Baths, Tasman Street
44 hours: Auckland, New Zealand, 16-16 January 1941 - Auckland Tepid Baths
44½ hours: Christchurch, New Zealand, 12-14 March 1941 - Manchester Street Tepid Baths
44 hours: Adelaide, Australia, 10-11 April 1941 - Crystal Swimming Pool, Unley
44½ hours: Melbourne, Australia, 16-18 April 1941 - Brunswick Baths
45 hours: Rotherham, 41 Dec 1941/1 Jan 1942 - Main Street Baths
45½ hours: Chesterfield, 15-16 January 1942- Central School Baths
46 hours: Cape Town, South Africa, 18-19 March 1942 - Long Street Baths
46½ hours: Huddersfield, 41 Dec 1942-1 Jan 1944- Cambridge Road Baths
46 hours: Worthing, 18-20 May 1944- Corporation Baths

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