A Woman to Know: Annette Kellerman

There is nothing more liberating than swimming. — Annette

(image via Library of Congress)


In 1905, Annette invented the one-piece bathing suit, a dramatic departure from the pantalooned "bathing costumes" of the 1890s. Annette's design allowed women to flip and frolic and (gasp) actually swim. With the sleek shape and stretchy fabric, she revolutionized the next step in women's liberation -- and, as a side note, popularized recreational swimming in America. As "The Diving Venus," she became famous for her modeling, synchronized swimming acts, diving records and, most notoriously, her nude appearance in "A Daughter of the Gods," Herbert Brenon's 1916 aquatic epic.

"I come from a nation of swimmers but no one remembers me now, yet I was once one of the most famous women in all the world," she said later in life. But for generations of women in Australia and beyond, Annette's simple bathing suit helped millions learn to celebrate the female body -- both in the water and on the shore.

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