Lily Copplestone

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Lily Copplestone in Wellington, New Zealand in 1929. Photo by by Sydney Charles Smith.
Lily Copplestone was a New Zealand marathon swimming champion who attempted to swim across the Cook Strait in New Zealand in 1929. Although unsuccessful, her attempt attracted considerable public interest. She swam across Wellington Harbour and finished third in the £500 Endurance Swim at Manly Beach in Australia held between 24 January to 1 February 1931 against Mercedes Gleitze, an English Channel and Strait of Gibraltar swimmer, and Charles Zibelman, known as the American Legless Wonder.

After the Manly International 500 Endurance Swimming Contest, Copplestone swam 8 miles in 3 hours 6 minutes from Neutral Bay to Manly in a shark-proof net in front of a crowd estimated at 10,000 spectators lined along the shore at Manly.

Manly International 500 Endurance Swimming Contest

Copplestone also competed in the 1931 Manly International 500 Endurance Swimming Contest that was the first professional swimming contest of its kind in Australia as well as a charity swim for the Manly Hospital Citizens' Relief Fund. 60 swimmers from England, America, Italy, New Zealand and Australia, including 14 women, competed. The competitors were fed with liquid food through a tube provided by assistants from a boat. The food consisted of chicken broth, milk, and chocolate in liquid form.

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