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born 1886

A championship swimmer, cliff diver, vaudeville performer and movie star, Australian Annette Kellerman was a superwoman of the Victorian era. But perhaps her biggest legacy is something that benefited us all ~ the one-piece swim suit. It wasn't easy to do the crawl stroke in pantaloons and a dress, so Annette designed a form-fitting alternative. Though considered risqué, it popularized the sport + lured women to the water.

Annette became an international celebrity ~ even earning a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She also wrote books on health, fitness + beauty and continued to swim until shortly before her death at 89.

bio bits

her quotes

all quotes by Annette Kellerman (10)

"I don't want to be just a pretty fish."

Bathing Suit Shopping with the Original Mermaid Annette Kellerman | 1908

"I can't swim wearing more stuff than you hang on a clothesline."

Now and Then: Observer Sport Monthly | 1912

"Swimming for women is more than physical, it can engender self-confidence, and in the art and science of swimming, a kind of equality, even superiority to that of men."

The Girl Who Wants to Swim | june 1915

"There are two kinds of bathing suits, those that are adapted for use in the water, and those that are unfit for use except on dry land."

How to Swim | january 1918

"If you are going to swim, wear a water bathing suit. But if you are merely going to play on the beach and pose for your camera friends, you may safely wear the dry land variety."

How to Swim | january 1918

"My early physical misfortune has turned out to be the greatest blessing that could have come to me. Without it I should have missed the grim struggle upward and the reward that waited at the end of it all."

How to Swim | january 1918

"Swimming is a pleasure and a benefit, a clean, cool, beautiful cheap thing we all from cats to kings can enjoy."

How to Swim | january 1918

"Swimming cultivates imagination; the man with the most is he who can swim in his solitary course day or night and forget a black earth full of people that push."

How to Swim | january 1918

"The man who has not given himself completely to the sun and winds and cold sting of the waves will never know all the meanings of life."

How to Swim | 1918

"I learn much from people in the way they meet the unknown of life and water is a great test. If they come to it bravely, they've gone far along the best way. I am sure no adventurer nor discoverer ever lived who could not swim."

How to Swim | 1918
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curated with care by Kathleen Murray {september 2014}