Courtesy of Auckland Star, 30 December 1916.

14-year-old Ida Elionsky completed a 28.5-mile (45.9 km) circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island in New York in 11 hours 35 minutes on September 24th 1916 in a tandem swim with her older brother Henry Elionsky who swam part of the way with his hands and feet tied as part of his lifelong campaign to encourage people of all ages and abilities to swim – over 100 years ago.

In a separate article in the Pittsburgh Sunday Post from July 11th 1915, a photo of Ida whose arms and feet are shackled, is on the front page. The article was about her swim through Hell Gate, a narrow tidal strait in the East River in New York City.

The article reads, “Ida Elionsky, the brave 16-year-old girl who swam through Hell Gate with her arms and feet shackled. At the left she is shown while in the middle of the swift current, being guided by her brother in a rowboat. In the center is a photograph of her as she dived off on the start of her perilous journey.

To the right, Miss Elionsky is shown just before she entered the water, her hands and feet securely tied. It was a wonderful feat to accomplish.”

Note: Ida was born in June 1903 and would have been 12 years old at the time of her Hell Gate swim.

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