Mercedes Gleitze

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Mercedes Gleitze (died 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 2013. She completed 2 channels of the Oceans Seven.

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

Contents

English Channel

In 1927, the relentless Londoner became the first English woman to swim the English Channel...on her eighth attempt.

North Channel

She then tried to cross the North Channel 7 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

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

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 1923. In 1929, she swam Lough Neagh in Ireland in 20+ hours. In 1930, she swam Hellespont in 2+ hours. In 1931, she swam across Galloway Bay in 19+ hours and across Sydney Harbor. She completed a 30-hour endurance swim in Cork, Ireland on 25-26 February 1930. She swam in Cape Town, South Africa in 1932 to bring the total number of marathon swims to an incredible 51 with 25 of her swims taking at least 26 hours to complete.

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 1933 until it was destroyed during World War II.

Open Water Swimming Career

1923
The Thames: British Ladies’ Record for Thames Swimming over the 27-miles stretch between Putney and Silvertown, in 10¾ hours

1927
18-29 July - The Thames: Westminster Bridge to Folkestone (120 miles in stages)
7 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)
13 July - Loch Ryan
28 July - Firth of Forth
17 August - Lough Foyle (Moville to Portstewart)
20 August - Lough Foyle (Portstewart to Moville)
8 September - Lough Neagh (lengthways)

1930
13-18 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
3 September - Sea of Marmara
25 December - Wellington Harbour, New Zealand

1931
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

1932
25 March - Cape Town to Robben Island, South Africa
27 March - Robben Island to Cape Town, South Africa

Set distances in the following South African rivers:
10 April - Swartkops River, Cape of Good Hope
17 April - Buffalo River, East London
23 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
17 September - 14-hour endurance sea swim, Blackpool: target was 25 hours

1929
August - September - 4 attempts at the North Channel

1930
2 June - Moray Firth
30 June - Bristol Channel
30 September - English Channel - Dover Town Gold Cup (England to France)

1933
2 August - English Channel (England to France)

Endurance Swims carried out in British pools, except where indicated

26 hours: Edinburgh, 31 Dec 1929/1 Jan 1930 - Infirmary Street Baths
28 hours: Dublin, Eire, 9-10 February 1930 - Tara Street Baths
30 hours: Cork, Eire, 25-26 February 1930 - Eglinton Street Baths
31 hours: Liverpool, 7-8 March 1930 - Westminster Road Baths
32 hours: Derby, 28-29 March 1930 - Reginald Street Baths
33 hours: Huddersfield, 4-5 April 1930 - Ramsden Street Baths
34 hours: Belfast, 21-22 April 1930 - Ormeau Baths
35 hours: Leicester, 19-20 May 1930 - Belgrave Baths, Cossington Street
36 hours: Sheffield, 23-24 May 1930 - Glossop Street Baths
37 hours: Douglas, 9-10 June 1930 - Henry Bloom Noble Baths
38 hours: Stafford, 3-4 July 1930 - Royal Baths
39 hours: Wolverhampton , 18-19 July 1930 - Municipal Baths
40 hours: Leicester, 12-13 September 1930 - Belgrave Baths, Cossington Street
40½ hours: Dundee, 24-25 September 1930 - Central Baths
41 hours: Hull, 9-10 October 1930 - Madeley Street Baths
41½ hours: Newcastle, 24-25 October 1930 - Northumberland Baths
42 hours: Dublin, Eire, 3-4 November 1930 - Tara Street Baths
42½ hours: Wellington, New Zealand, 31 Dec 1930/1 Jan 1931- Boys Institute Baths, Tasman Street
43 hours: Auckland, New Zealand, 16-17 January 1931 - Auckland Tepid Baths
43½ hours: Christchurch, New Zealand, 12-13 March 1931 - Manchester Street Tepid Baths
44 hours: Adelaide, Australia, 10-11 April 1931 - Crystal Swimming Pool, Unley
44½ hours: Melbourne, Australia, 17-18 April 1931 - Brunswick Baths
45 hours: Rotherham, 31 Dec 1931/1 Jan 1932 - Main Street Baths
45½ hours: Chesterfield, 15-16 January 1932- Central School Baths
46 hours: Cape Town, South Africa, 18-19 March 1932 - Long Street Baths
46½ hours: Huddersfield, 31 Dec 1932-1 Jan 1933- Cambridge Road Baths
47 hours: Worthing, 18-20 May 1933- Corporation Baths

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