The swimming goggles that Gertrude Ederle wore when she became the first woman to swim across the English Channel in 1926 are on display in the case in front of you.
This touchable model of the goggles is actual size.
Ederle's goggles are a single piece of yellow-orange tinted glass set into a reddish-brown leather eye mask. A shiny metal frame holds the glass in place, with a notch at the bottom to fit over the nose. The leather mask has a rubber coating, once white but now cracked and aged to a brownish-cream color. The black elastic strap attached at both sides went around the back of Ederle's head.
In an era when men dominated competitive swimming, Gertrude Ederle challenged gender norms. She swam between France and England in 14½ hours—besting by two hours the times of the five men who had done so before her. Her feat focused the nation’s attention on women’s physical strength and athleticism.