Image from The Library of Congress
Annette Kellermann had the odds stacked against her from the beginning. Born on the southern coast of Australia in 1887, Annette Kellermann learned how to walk on unusually weak legs — by the age of six, she was given steel supports to help balance and brace her weight on her unstable legs, and her parents enrolled her in swim classes with the hope of strengthening her muscles in a zero-gravity environment.
Annette took to the water like... well, she took to it like a fish in water. Annette's legs regained normal strength by her teenage years, and before long she was mastering strokes in the pool at unparalleled rates; what had started as a treatment for a physical ailment became quickly became a glamorous passion for Annette. By sixteen, she was shattering swimming records and making a name for herself across Australia. When she wasn't in the pool, Annette spent her school years mastering the theatrical component of swimming — she was known for performing mermaid plays, demonstrating dives, and swam with the fish in the aquarium.
At the turn of the nineteenth century, Annette's flamboyant character was unconventional at best and offensive at worst. But she is not only remembered through history for her record-setting swims; Annette Kellermann was one of the first women to wear a one-piece bathing suit, and she opened doors for countless women through history to challenge social norms and take their fate into their own hands.
Annette swam over 13 miles in the river Thames at nineteen, and at twenty she won a 22 mile race down the Danube. Her famous attempt at the English channel in 1906 was technically unsuccessful, but her swimsuit garnered an international uproar: in sewing together black stockings and men's swim suits, Annette Kellermann designed and wore the first women's one piece, and she wore it with absolute pride and dignity.
Her refusal to accept sexist standards, her relentless courage to pursue equality and achievement, and her momentous strength to pursue what she loved is a timeless story of grit and perseverance. She was regarded as the "perfect woman" at the time, undoubtably because of her persistent advocation of physical exercise and health.
Annette Kellermann, the first woman to shattered the class ceiling in a swimsuit, proves that good things come to those who stand up for what they believe in. Like Annette, we believe that our swimsuits represent so much more than an article of clothing — with the natural symbol of the butterfly and the female empowerment of a Monarch, our bathing suits celebrate the individuality that makes every woman beautiful.