Open sea swimming scared ‘Young Woman and the Sea’ lead Daisy Ridley

By Thomson Reuters May 29, 2024 | 5:15 AM

By Rollo Ross and Danielle Broadway

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Daisy Ridley realized she had to conquer one of her fears to truly embrace her role as Gertrude “Trudy” Ederle, the first woman to swim the English Channel.

“I’m scared of open water,” Ridley, the star of “Young Woman and the Sea,” told Reuters.

The cast and crew she worked with thought she was kidding, but it was true trepidation for the “Star Wars” actor.

“If I go to the beach, I don’t go beyond my waist. I like to see the bottom, I have never swum far out,” she added.

Ridley overcame her fears and eventually did get in the water for the film, swimming in the Black Sea for nine days.

She said she found it overwhelming to keep pace with a camera and a camera boat, jumping in and out of the water, drying off and then hopping back in for more filming each day.

While she made it happen for the film, Ridley doesn’t foresee any more open sea swimming in her future.

“I’m just not an open sea gal,” she said.

“Young Woman and the Sea” arrives in U.S. theaters on Friday, timed for the lead up to the 2024 Paris Games to pay homage to Ederle’s Olympics history.

The Disney-produced film is based Ederle’s life as she goes from a little girl with measles to a swimming prodigy who wins a gold medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics. In 1926, Ederle also becomes the first woman to swim 21 miles (32 km) across the English Channel that separates southern England from northern France.

Following her Channel swim, Trudy’s hometown of New York City held the largest public celebration ever recorded for one of its citizens, with more than 2 million people cheering her parade.

Director Joachim Ronning was impressed by Ridley’s commitment to open water swimming.

“Her lips blue, you know and never complaining, no nothing and then showing such a strength and channeling Trudy, I really believe,” he said.

“Young Woman and the Sea” comes after the 2023 release of Netflix’s “Nyad”, another feature about a woman swimmer, for which Annette Bening and Jodie Foster were both nominated for Oscars.

“(Trudy) transcended the other movie because she was way before it,” Producer Jerry Bruckheimer said. “She led the way for that film because she’s the first woman to do an extraordinary event like that, so you look at all the great female athletes. She was one of the first ones.”

(Reporting by Rollo Ross and Danielle Broadway; Editing by Mary Milliken and Lincoln Feast.)