Last NameSportCountryYear Inducted

Sport: Swimming
Inducted: 1982
Country: United States
Born: 1885 in New York, New York
Died: August 1938

The mother of American women’s swimming, Charlotte Epstein established women’s swimming as a recognized sport in the United States and was responsible for its inclusion on the 1920 Antwerp Olympic Games program.

In October 1914, Epstein founded the National Women’s Life Saving League, later changed to New York Women’s Swimming Association
(WSA). She was the organizer, the manager, and provided the continuity and tenacity that made it go and kept it going. Within months of the WSA’s establishment, Eppy persuaded the U.S. Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) to permit women swimmers, for the
first time to register as athletes with the AAU.

A court stenographer by trade, Epstein led the United States lady swimmers to the 1920, 1924, and 1932 Olympiads. During this time, American female swimmers dominated the Games, and among the swimmers considered Epstein’s protégés were champions Gertrude Ederle, Aleen Riggin, and Eleanor Holm.

The success of the American women’s swim team at the Antwerp
Olympics led to the inclusion of track and field and other sports for women in future Olympic Games. Women’s archery and golf first appeared in the 1900 and 1904 Olympics and had been the only events open to females. Ashort list of ladies’ track and field events appeared for the first time at the 1928 Olympic Games.

Epstein’s name and face were seldom in public print. Nevertheless, she was assistant manager of the 1932 U.S. Women’s Olympic Swim Team—the first woman to be named for such an honor. Four years later, she was invited to coach the 1936 U.S. Women’s Olympic Swim Team, but declined and resigned from the United States
Olympic Committee in protest against Nazi Germany’s policies.

During her 22 years with the WSA, Epstein’s swimmers set 51 world records and registered 31 U.S. Champion Relay Teams.


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