‘Young Woman and the Sea’ tells the story of the first woman to swim the English channel

The film, released in cinemas today, stars Daisy Ridley, Stephen Graham and more.

Few types of movies will get the heart-stirring like an inspiring sports drama. Disney and mega-producer Jerry Bruckheimer are adding to the 2024 new movie lineup with Young Woman and the Sea, based on the true story of Trudy Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel. 

Swimming has had its moment on the big screen in recent years. In 2023 Netflix debuted Nyad, which earned Annette Bening and Jodie Foster Oscar nominations for the story of Diana Nyad, who at 60 swam from Cuba to Florida. Then there was the 2022 movie The Swimmers about two sisters who escaped war-torn Syria to pursue their dream of competing in the Olympics. 

For the film, Jeff Nathanson adapted the book, Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World by Glenn Stout. The film won’t just tell Trudy’s story, though – Young Woman and the Sea recounts the patriarchal views of the time, and the community of trainers, friends and family that fought for Trudy to achieve her dreams.

“Daisy Ridley stars as the accomplished swimmer who was born to immigrant parents in New York City in 1905,” a synopsis reads. “Through the steadfast support of her older sister and supportive trainers, she overcame adversity and the animosity of a patriarchal society to rise through the ranks of the Olympic swimming team and complete the staggering achievement – a 21-mile trek from France to England.”

Alongside Ridley, Stephen Graham, Fleabag‘s Sian Clifford, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Doctor Who‘s Christopher Ecclestone, Tessa Bonham Jones and Saskia Marguerite will also star.

In a recent interview with Empire, she opened up about how she constructed Trudy’s character and the integral role that sisterhood and family play in the story.

“Obviously, what the swim represented was so huge in a social way, but my feeling was that I wanted to play Trudy loving swimming,” she said. “Who knows how she really felt, because there isn’t so much [information] about what was really motivating her except for the fact that she was so gutted that she didn’t win gold at the Olympics.

“But I wanted this to feel like someone who just loves what they’re doing. And I wanted the feeling that everything she does, she’s able to do because of the support of her family. I wanted this to feel like a love story between her and her sister.”

Young Woman and the Sea is out in US and UK cinemas now.