Pioneering swimmer Mercedes Gleitze celebrated in new film

by | 3 March 2024 | Heritage, Notice, Rother

In celebration of International Women’s Day, the much-anticipated biopic ‘Vindication Swim’ is hitting cinemas across the UK on 8th March to highlight one women’s extraordinary achievements in the 20th century.

Diving into the extraordinary life of Mercedes Gleitze, who in 1927 became the first British woman to swim the English Channel, the film depicts Mercedes’ upstream struggle in overcoming both the cold waters of the English Channel and the oppressive society of 1920s England.

Her commitment to achieving this ambition is an inspiring story brought to life in the film, and when a rival comes forward claiming to have accomplished the same feat, Mercedes is forced into battle to retain her record and her legacy.

Written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Elliott Hasler, ‘Vindication Swim’ stars British-Irish actress Kirsten Callaghan in her debut role as Mercedes Gleitze, who trained for months in the English Channel before filming began. The film also stars John Locke (Darkest Hour, Poor Things, The Favourite) alongside James Wilby (Maurice, Gosford Park, Howards End) and Douglas Hodge (Joker, The Great, Black Mirror).

Aside from the Channel, Mercedes also became the first person to complete many other incredible swims around the world, including the Straits of Gibraltar, the Dardanelles and distance between Robben Island and Cape Town.

Mercedes also made waves in Rotherham, where on 31st December 1931 she saw in the New Year by completing a mammoth 45-hour endurance swim at the iconic Corporation Baths, which was witnessed by several thousand spectators including many Rotherham dignatories. This incredible feat saw Mercedes swim an estimated 75,600 strokes over the two days.

The inclusion of Rotherham within the legacy of Mercedes Gleitze adds a local touch to this global narrative, celebrating the resilience and spirit of a woman who dared to challenge the status quo.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, ‘Vindication Swim’ serves as a poignant reminder of the indomitable spirit of a woman who dared to dream beyond the confines of her era.

The film’s creators invite Rotherham residents to join the nationwide audience in commemorating International Women’s Day while paying homage to a local connection that shaped Gleitze’s remarkable legacy.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a sports fan, or simply someone seeking inspiration, ‘Vindication Swim’ promises a cinematic experience that celebrates not only the achievements of Mercedes Gleitze, but also the collective strength and determination of women who have left an indelible mark on our world.

Details for screenings can be found at or @vindicationswimfilm on social media.