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Five-Milers: 1914

New York, July 16, 1914. "Martha Hogstedt, Elsie Sultan, Edna Cole. Women's race." The top three finishers (from left, 1-2-3) of the National Women's Life Saving League five-mile swim from Rockaway Inlet to Brighton Beach. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

New York, July 16, 1914. "Martha Hogstedt, Elsie Sultan, Edna Cole. Women's race." The top three finishers (from left, 1-2-3) of the National Women's Life Saving League five-mile swim from Rockaway Inlet to Brighton Beach. 5x7 glass negative, George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

"Built on less generous lines"

What a great turn of phrase.

"I Feel Fine"

Young Women Who in Swimming Race Covered a Five-Mile Course in Atlantic; The Victory of Little Miss Hagstedt Was a Surprise to Experts in Aquatic Sports

Amid mingled exclamations of astonishment and surprise by expert swimmers stationed at the finish, Miss Martha Hagstedt, of Brooklyn, N.Y., won a long, hard 5-mile swim for women in the ocean waters around New York. The race was held under the auspices of the National Women's Life-saving League. The winner's time was 1 h. 32 m. 31 2-5s. Miss Elsie Saltan, finished in 1 h. 33m. 46 3-5s., and Edna Cole was third, in 1 h. 37m 24 1-5s. Ten girls competed. Besides those who won the prizes, there were Mrs. Lillian Howard, Miss Lillie Bartildes, Miss Rita Greenfield, Miss Clarabelle Barrett, Miss Ethel Strauss, Miss Sophie Freitag, and Miss Anita Dryer. Of the big field Mrs. Howard and Miss Cole were the favorites with the swimming handicappers, and when Miss Hagstedt, who is much smaller and built on less generous lines, beat them both she gave them a severe shock. When asked how she felt, Miss Hagstedt replied: "I feel fine. I don't feel a bit tired. I feel so good that I could start in another race." Miss Hagstedt, who is 20 years of age, and weighs 125 pounds, had to fight every inch of the distance to secure first prize.

Washington Post, Jun 19, 1914

Remarkable Progress Made by Women in All Lines of Outdoor Sports Since Grandma Sat Around and Knitted

The recent remarkable exhibitions of swimming and diving by young women contestants at the New York sportsmen's show, held in Madison Square Garden, directs renewed attention to the increasing efficiency of women athletes in all branches of outdoor sports.

Here was indeed a significant spectacle — a score of fine, modest, well-bred girls — carrying off swimming and diving honors before mixed audiences of tens of thousands during the week from January 2 to January 9, and doing it with as much confidence and absence of embarrassment as if they were so many professionals of the sterner sex.
Although amateur athletes, these girls are so proficient in swimming and diving, and all water sports, that they actually vie in records with the best professionals, like Annette Kellerman, who offered the diving trophy. It does not shock them at all that their photographs and names are frequently printed in the newspapers in connection with their athletic triumphs. Such names as Elsie Hanneman, winner of the world's woman's fancy diving championship; Nellie Greenhall, who though barely 16 years old, swims 100 yards in 1 minute 5 ½ seconds; Miss M. Simpson, Miss Edna Cole, Miss Millie Bartildes, and among scores of others, the Misses Josephine Bartlett, Lucy Freeman, Rita Greenfield, Mary Nerich, Martha Hogstedt and Elsie Sutton.

At their age grandmamma, tenderly shielded from any contact with the outside world, was doing her "tatting." Her athletic pretentions were limited to a ladylike game of croquet on the home lawn, well screened from the public.

If grandmamma is amazed at the change that has come over girls in the last 40 years, what amazes her most, probably, is that the higher the social scale the more addicted are its girls to strenuous outdoor sports. Grandmamma might expect that sort of thing in the case of "hoydens of the working classes," show hard-working parents have no time in which to "properly bring them up," but not in the case of the daughters of parents possessing wealth and inherited refinement.

Washington Post, Jan 17, 1915

It's Like I Always Say

Our ancestors in the first twenty or thirty years of the 20th century were far less prudish than we have been led to believe they were. And indeed far less prudish than many people are today.

Reverence Askew

Asymmetry is a defining feature, and perhaps the charm, of the human form.

Ever seen a wet Speedo?

They do not have any undergarment support either, and they are just as revealing as the old wool ones, especially the the light blue colored ones. Why do you think so many young men go out for swimming?

Fit and Trim

I wonder how many women competed in the event and how many years the event lasted. They can save my life anytime.

Unfair Advantage

The swimmer in the middle appears to have a couple of flotation devices which if Olympic coverage is any indication have long-since been banned from women's competitive swimming.

My Name Is

It's funny how popular names change with the generations. What used to be Martha, Elsie and Edna now becomes Tiffany, Kyra and Caitlin.

But they are wearing them. . .

As for not lasting two minutes on an American beach of this time wearing this kind of bathing suit. . .

But but - they ARE wearing them! I've seen other pictures of girls wearing this sort of suit in the 1910s. They are especially revealing because they are wet and suits of that era did not have any support of any kind - so what you saw when they were wet was pretty much what the person's figure was. And these girls are fine and look very strong!


For this era, it's incredible how revealing their bathing suits are.

They wouldn't have lasted two minutes on an American beach of the time before being thrown into the hoosegow for indecent exposure.

5 Miles?!

Wow! Imagine how hard it would be to swim that far wearing a wool bathing suit. They all look to be in fantastic shape.

Mothers of the Greatest Generation

I wonder how many kids these girls would eventually have. Would any of them become Gold Star mothers? No way to know, of course, but questions like that come up when you look into the eyes of these candid, unpretentious subjects. And by the way, a shadow on the wall suggests that someone standing to the photographer's right was wearing a fedora!

[That's the photographer. - Dave]

Old Spike Milligan Gag

"Last night, I went to a French restaurant. The lady at the next table had frog's legs... her friend's were even worse!"

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