Point Loma High alum Florence Chadwick is generally recognized as the greatest female long-distance swimmer in history. Her greatest triumph came in 1950 when she swam the English Channel in 13 hours, 20 minutes, breaking Gertrude Ederle’s record by one hour and 19 minutes. Ironically, she had entered a London Daily Mail contest to swim the Channel, but her application was rejected because she was an unknown. Two months later, she embarrassed the Daily Mail by conquering the Channel and Ederle’s record. In 1951, she swam the more difficult England to France route in the record time of 16 hours and 22 minutes. Other long-distance accomplishments included the Catalina Channel swim three times, the Dardanelles, the Bosporus and the strong cross currents of Gibraltar. Flo captured the La Jolla Rough Water swim seven times and the Oceanside Rough Water more often than anyone knows.
The only challenge she failed to meet were three unsuccessful attempts at the 19-mile North Channel between Ireland and Scotland where she was overcome each time by bone-chilling 50-degree water.
For all her accomplishments, she was elected to the International Swimming Hall of Fame in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in 1970.
Flo joined her former Los Angeles Athletic Club teammate Esther Williams to do a film “Bathing Beauty.” She was named one of the 16 top personalities in sports in 1950 by the Helms Foundation and the Los Angeles Times. Flo was the recipient of the “Essence of Life” award presented by the City of San Diego in 1992.
Flo retired from swimming after more than 30 years, became a stockbroker, but continued to coach young long-distance swimmers and promote sports for women. She passed away in San Diego in 1995 at the age of 76.