Charlotte Epstein

Charlotte “Eppy” Epstein helped popularize women’s swimming and coached Olympic athletes who broke more than fifty world records. Epstein had been working as a court stenographer when she and several coworkers began swimming after work for exercise. She founded the National Women’s Life Saving League in 1914 and the renowned Women’s Swimming Association in 1917 to promote the sport. Epstein lobbied the Amateur Athletic Union to allow women to register in swimming events and fought to allow women and girls to compete in swimming events at the Olympics, offering herself as chaperone and team manager for the 1920, 1924, and 1932 Olympic swim teams. Her swimmers and divers dominated the games, including fourteen-year-old Aileen Riggin, who won a gold medal in fancy diving in 1920 and gold medals in both diving and the swimming relay in 1924. In 1926 WSA swimmer Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim the English Channel and beat the men’s best time. Over the course of Epstein’s twenty-two years coaching WSA, her athletes held fifty-one world records. She boycotted the 1936 Berlin Olympics but chaired the swimming committee for the 1935 Maccabiah Games in Tel Aviv, her last international sports event before her death.

Topics: Olympics

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Charlotte Epstein.
Photo Credit: Robert SlaterGreat Jews in Sports, (New York, Jonathan David Publishers, Inc., 1983), p. 65.

Date of Birth

New York, NY
United States

Date of Death

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Charlotte Epstein ." (Viewed on August 12, 2020) <>.


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