PHOTO: Red Hat ladies Julie D. Stutzman (left), Middletown; Eve Ann Kirby, Atlantic Highlands, and Francesca Pippin, Highlands, place flowers honoring Gertrude Ederle on a plaque recognizing her achievements in Ederle Park in Highlands, overlooking the Shrewsbury River, Bahrs' Restaurant and Sandy Hook.  Credit: Peter E. Donoghue

HIGHLANDS -- The Twin Lights chapter of the Red Hat Society has honored the memory of English Channel swimmer Gertrude Ederle.

Ederle was recognized Tuesday, Aug. 8 at a Red Hat luncheon at Bahrs' Landing Restaurant and subsequently at the hillside Gertrude Ederle Park overlooking Bahrs', the Shrewsbury River and Sandy Hook.

During the lunch, Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel, was cited by Red Hatters Louise I. Donoghue, of Atlantic Highlands, and her sister-in-law, Julie D. Stutzman, Middletown, for her accomplishment, achieved on Aug, 6. 1926, in 14 1/2 hours, faster than all previous channel swimmers, all of whom who had been men.

Mrs. Donoghue emphasized the importance of Ederle's achievement at a time when women were considered very much the weaker sex, pointing out that Ederle wore a self-designed two-piece bathing suit, one of the first ever, and created swimming goggles. Previously women's "bathing costumes" covered them from neck to feet.

Ms. Stutzman , who had met Ederle twice over the years, once as a young girl and later on the occasion of the rededication of Ederle Park in 2003, described the champion swimmer as a gracious woman with a good sense of humor.

Ederle, a New Yorker, spent summers with her family in Highlands where she learned to swim in the Shrewsbury River and ultimately prepare for her historic channel swim. In between, she won four Olympic swimming medals.