August 7, 1987 – Lynne Cox becomes the first person to swim from the USA to the Soviet Union
Today in History-
• 1987 – Lynne Cox becomes first person to swim from the United States to the Soviet Union, crossing the Bering Strait from Little Diomede Island in Alaska to Big Diomede in the Soviet Union. Courtesy of Wikipedia.
Lynne Cox (born 1957 in Boston, Massachusetts) is an American long-distance open-water swimmer, writer and speaker. She is best known for being the first person to swim between the United States and the Soviet Union, in the Bering Strait, a feat which has been recognized for easing the Cold War tensions between US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
In 1971, she and her teammates were the first group of teenagers to complete the crossing of the Catalina Island Channel in California. She has twice held the record for the fastest crossing of the English Channel from England to France (1972 in a time of 9 hours 57 minutes and 1973 in a time of 9 hours 36 minutes). In 1975, Cox became the first woman to swim the 10 °C (50 °F), 16 km (10 mi) Cook Straitin New Zealand. In 1976, she was the first person to swim the Straits of Magellan in Chile, and the first to swim around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.
Cox is perhaps best known for swimming 2 hour 5 minutes in the Bering Strait on 7 August 1987, from the island of Little Diomede in Alaska to Big Diomede, then part of the Soviet Union, where the water temperature averaged around 43 to 44 °F (6 to 7 °C). At the time people living on the Diomede Islands, only 3.7 km (2.3 mi) apart, were not permitted to travel between them, although the Inuit communities there had been closely linked until the natives of Big Diomede were moved to the Russian mainland after World War II. Her accomplishment a few years before the end of the Cold War earned praise from both US President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
At the signing of the INF Missile Treaty at the White House, Gorbachev made a toast. He and President Reagan lifted their glasses and Gorbachev said: "Last summer it took one brave American by the name of Lynne Cox just two hours to swim from one of our countries to the other. We saw on television how sincere and friendly the meeting was between our people and the Americans when she stepped onto the Soviet shore. She proved by her courage how close to each other our peoples live."