Ethelda Bleibtrey of Waterford, NY was the first woman to receive a medal in swimming for the USA. She was also the first woman in the world to get three gold medals. At that time, 1920, she also held the world record in the backstroke but there was no slated event for women in the Antwerp Olympiad of 1920, otherwise she might have won a fourth medal.
She took up swimming to overcome the effects of polio. Later, she spent many years teaching children with disabilities to swim.
She pioneered for women and swimming by "swimming nude" ( that is, she took off her stockings to swim in Manhattan beach---considered nudity in 1919!)
She advocated for more swimming facilities in New York City.
She died in 1978 in West Palm Beach, Florida.
This Fact of the Day was submitted by
Sister Joyce Gadoua