In keeping with our “Fancy a swim” theme, this screen capture from an eBay auction (that we didn’t win) shows a medal that the Riverton Yacht Club awarded for a 3-mile women’s swim in 1919.
According to the report in the August 8, 1919 issue of The New Era, “The women’s 3-mile race held by the Yacht Club last Saturday proved to be the greatest race of its kind ever held in the world.”
Despite the writer’s hyperbole, it must have been a pretty awesome event that will probably new be duplicated.
A firing of a cannon from the deck of Commodore R.M. Hollingshead‘s cruiser, a former coast patrol boat, signaled the start of the novel race. (Richard Milton Hollingshead, Sr. founded RM Hollingshead Corporation, and by 1920 it produced 98 Whiz brand automotive products. His son, Richard Hollingshead, Jr., later invented the drive-in movie in 1933. See more details in GN #164, Dec 2016.)
Thirty of the finest women swimmers from New York, Philadelphia, Edgewater Park, and of course, Riverton dove from the deck of the Keystone Yacht Club’s “Surprise” into the “rough and choppy” waters off of the Bridesburg pier and into the record books.
Ethelda Bliebtrey, a rising 17-year-old swimming star, won the race with a time of 44 minutes, 15 seconds.
Second place winner Eleanor Uhl that year went on to break Bleibtrey’s record with a time of 43:13 to win the 3-mile swim competition in 1920.
They both were members of the US Women’s Olympic Swim Team in 1920.
Billed in the newspapers of the day as an annual 3-mile swim, the Riverton Yacht Club held the event in at least 1918, 1919, 1920, and 1922.
We welcome more information about any particulars regarding Riverton’s 3-mile swim competitions.