long distance swimmer

The Long-Distance




set in cover (3) open-water
crew sponsor try/tried/tried
refuse entry (2) check (2)
set off decide on her own
wide narrow at her own expense
wade grease participate
guide row boat accompany
fog contest blanket (2)
steer reduce record (3)
shout row (3) channel (3)
poop duration exhausted
shore attempt preliminary
crystal relatively period (3)
select hitch (3) announce
set (2) visibility crystal clear


Florence Chadwick

Florence May Chadwick was an American known for long-distance open-water swimming.

In 1950, at the age of 31, she tried to participate in the English Channel swimming contest sponsored by the Daily Mail newspaper. However, she was refused entry because she was relatively unknown (but quite famous in her home-state of California).

Florence then decided to swim on her own, at her own expense.

Calais, France

In July of that year, she set off from Calais, France to Dover, England, the narrowest part between the two countries, at about 33.3 km wide.

Florence covered her body with grease, waded into the Channel, and began swimming. Two rowboats accompanied her.

She swam . . . and swam . . . and swam . . . and swam . . . and swam . . . hour after hour after hour.

Then fog began setting in.

The Fog

Soon everything was blanket with fog, reducing visibility to nearly zero. The boats could still steer by compass, and Florence was guided by the shouts of the boat crew.

But after swimming for more than fourteen (14) hours, she announced to the crew, “I’m pooped . . . I’m exhausted . . . I can’t go any further.” And so they pulled her onto the boat.

They were about one-and-a-half kilometers from the English shore.

.     .     .     .     .     .     .     .

August, 1950

A month later, Florence made a second attempt. This time, the team made a preliminary weather check, looking for periods when the weather would be crystal clear for the entire duration of the swim.

On the selected day, Florence once again entered the English Channel . . . and reached Dover without a hitch, thus becoming the second woman to swim the English Channel, in thirteen hours and twenty minutes (13:20), a new record.


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1. Florence Chadwick was a British Olympic swimming champion. True or false?

2. Was she denied entry in the English Channel swimming competition because she was a woman?

3. Florence decided to give up and go home. Is this wrong or right? What did she do? Did she have company sponsors?

4. She succeeded in her endeavor in July, 1950. Is this correct or incorrect? What happened?

5. Did the same thing happen in August? Was her August swim a repeat of her July swim?

6. Florence’s time for her second swim was longer than her first attempt because she didn’t stop and finished. Yes or no?


A. What could be an explanation for the differences in the two results?

B. Is there a moral or lesson to this story? Give examples from real life.

C. What is your (or your friend’s) goal, target, destination, aim?

D. How do you plan on attaining your target or reaching your destination?

E. Does your company, school or organization use incentives to motivate, energize and enthuse employees or students?

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