The true story of “Young Woman and the Sea: ”Fact-checking Daisy Ridley's Gertrude Ederle biopic

The true story of “Young Woman and the Sea: ”Fact-checking Daisy Ridley's Gertrude Ederle biopic

A dive into the differences and similarities between the film adaptation and the English Channel swimmer's real life.

Star Wars alum Daisy Ridley swaps a lightsaber for swim goggles in Disney's Young Woman and the Sea, Joachim Rønning's biopic about American swimmer Gertrude “Trudy” Ederle.

Adapted from Glenn Stout’s 2009 book of the same name, the film tells the true story of how Ederle, at just 20 years old, became the first woman to swim the treacherous English Channel in August 1926 — a feat achieved only by five men before her. But how faithful is the film adaptation of Ederle’s real-life story? For the most part, the movie gets it right — but it does diverge from history in at least two notable ways, likely to cut down on time and enhance the drama.

Related: Daisy Ridley dove into uncharted waters for biopic Young Woman and the Sea — literally and figuratively

Olympic medalist

In the film, before Ederle makes waves in the English Channel, she competes at the 1924 Paris Olympics as part of Team USA. While the male swimmers are given the opportunity to train on the ship escorting the team from New York to France, the female swimmers are not given time to prepare, which, the movie insinuates, leads to a poor showing at the Games and no medals. A disappointed Ederle returns home, unsure of what her future holds in a sport that doesn't take women seriously.

What the movie doesn't mention, however, is that Ederle took home some serious hardware from the Olympics. She won a gold medal in the 4x100m freestyle relay and two bronze medals in the 100m and 400m freestyle. Ederle was well accomplished in the water leading up to the Olympics, holding more than 20 world and national swimming records before she arrived in Paris, per the International Swimming Hall of Fame.

<p>Courtesy of Disney</p> Daisy Ridley as Gertrude Ederle in 'Young Woman and the Sea'

Courtesy of Disney

Daisy Ridley as Gertrude Ederle in 'Young Woman and the Sea'

A break between crossings

The second major difference between the movie and real life involves the time between Ederle's first and second attempts to cross the channel. While the movie makes it seem like only a few days had passed, in actuality, a whole year went by before she was able to accomplish her goal.

Ederle first tried to swim the 21 miles from France to England on Aug. 18, 1925, when she was just 19. She trained with a swimmer named Jabez Wolffe (Christopher Eccleston), who had tried unsuccessfully to cross the channel 22 times. During Ederle's first attempt, he made the decision to have her pulled from the water, disqualifying her from the record. While he did so under the pretense of safety, Ederle bitterly disagreed with the decision, and it was largely believed at the time that Wolffe had tried to sabotage her out of jealousy. The movie takes some liberties here as well, going so far as to depict Wolffe spiking Ederle's tea to prevent her from completing the crossing.

Ederle later enlisted the help of new coach Bill Burgess (played by Stephen Graham) and completed the crossing on her second attempt, besting the men’s record by nearly two hours. After covering herself in oil and vaseline to insulate against the frigid waters, she started her journey at Cape Gris-Nez in France on Aug. 6, 1926, and came ashore at Kingsdown, Kent., 14 hours and 34 minutes later.

As depicted in the film, upon her triumphant return, Ederle was greeted with a ticker-tape parade in Manhattan attended by millions, including then-Mayor James Walker.

Her record stood for nearly a quarter century until Florence Chadwick accomplished the feat in 13 hours and 23 minutes in 1950.

What the movie gets right

All in all, the film remains largely true to Ederle’s story: She really came down with a near-fatal case of measles as a child, contributing to her hearing loss that would worsen as her swimming career progressed. Her father (played by Kim Bodnia), a butcher shop worker, really taught her how to swim by hooking rope to her waist, and her sister Margaret (Tilda Cobham-Hervey) was truly instrumental to her success thanks to her steadfast support and unwavering belief in her.

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<p>Bettmann Archive/Getty</p> The real Gertrude Ederle

Bettmann Archive/Getty

The real Gertrude Ederle

Related: Jerry Bruckheimer on the highest-tested movie of his career: 'I couldn't believe it'

The film doesn’t dive too deep into Ederle’s life after her historic feat, but it was quite remarkable. Named the “Queen of the Waves” by the press and “America’s best girl” by then-President Calvin Coolidge, Ederle became an instant celebrity, appearing in vaudeville shows and movies, including 1927’s Swim Girl, Swim. After a spine injury and further damage to her hearing, Ederle worked as a swim instructor for deaf children. She died in November 2003, at 98 in Wyckoff, N.J.

Young Woman and the Sea is in theaters now.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.