HUNDREDS of people gathered in a terraced street to see the unveiling of a blue plaque dedicated to one of Brighton’s sporting greats.

People from across the country waited in anticipation outside 124 Freshfield Road, Brighton, to honour Mercedes Gleitze, who in 1927, became the first British woman to swim the Channel.

The event, organised by Brighton and Hove Commemorative Plaque Panel and the city’s Heritage Commission, was attended by Mayor Alan Robins, Brighton Kemptown MP Lloyd Russell-Moyle and the cast and crew of Vindication Swim.

The Argus:

The film, written and directed by Hove-based director Elliott Hasler, tells the story of Mercedes’s extraordinary achievements.

Addressing crowds before the unveiling, Elliott said: “It means a great deal to me personally for people to come and recognise Mercedes Gleitze and her achievements.

“We tried very hard to accurately represent Mercedes in the film, so hopefully when you do come to watch it, everything you see is real.

The Argus: The cast and crew of Vindication Swim at the event in BrightonThe cast and crew of Vindication Swim at the event in Brighton

“It was all filmed out in the English Channel, there’s no fakery. We really strove to embody the spirit of Mercedes.”

Cllr Robins and Mr Russell-Moyle unveiled the plaque at the home Mercedes was born in 1900.

Mr Russell-Moyle said the unveiling should be an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of female sporting figures throughout history and invest in the city’s stars of the future.

The Argus: Kirsten Callaghan who plays Mercedes in Vindication SwimKirsten Callaghan who plays Mercedes in Vindication Swim

He said: “We have rediscovered a piece of history, but not one that was unknown at the time.

“Brighton has the oldest swimming club in the country, and I think that is something we often undersell in the city.

“Swimming was a vital part of what built Brighton and it is something that huge numbers of people in Brighton still do.

The Argus: Brighton swimmer Mercedes Gleitze made history more than onceBrighton swimmer Mercedes Gleitze made history more than once

“We need to start looking at our city and how we start developing decent facilities so we can have the next Mercedes here.

“Hopefully, this is not just a plaque to remember history, but to inspire us going forwards.”

A statement read out on behalf of Mercedes’s children, Doloranda Pember and Fergus Carey, said: "We know she loved the years she spent in Brighton, her birthplace, and it is where she learned to swim.

“Apart from her actual swimming achievements, Mercedes, along with a small but growing number of intrepid female swimmers, can be credited with helping to break through the female, sporting glass ceiling.

“A battle, which even today, is still ongoing in some sporting disciplines. She was not possessive of her talent and encouraged everyone to learn how to swim.”

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