“Young Woman and the Sea” Star Daisy Ridley on 'Unbearable' 1920s Women’s Swimwear: ‘You’re Wearing Shoes!’ (Exclusive)

The actress wore replicas of the heavy, wool swimsuits that Gertrude “Trudy” Ederle donned in the 1920s

<p>Elena Nenkova/ Disney</p> Daisy Ridley in

Elena Nenkova/ Disney

Daisy Ridley in 'Young Woman and the Sea'

Women’s swimwear was neither comfortable nor practical back in the day, as Daisy Ridley can attest.

To play trailblazing ocean swimmer Gertrude “Trudy” Ederle in Young Woman and the Sea (in theaters now), Ridley donned bulky costumes made of wool — accurate recreations of 1920s-era swimwear.

“We start in the very traditional swimming costumes of that time,” the English actress, 32, tells PEOPLE. Trudy’s swimsuits early in the movie are “heavy, made of wool, so many layers," she says.

Adds Ridley with a laugh: “You're wearing shoes! Unbearable, honestly, to swim in.”

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Ridley signed onto director Joachim Rønning’s Young Woman and the Sea as both star and producer because she was drawn to Jeff Nathanson’s script (based on Glenn Stout's 2022 book) and the little-known bit of history it depicts: the New York City-born Ederle’s rise from the child of immigrants to champion at the 1924 Paris Olympic Games to, on Aug. 6, 1926, becoming the first woman and fastest person at the time to successfully swim the English Channel.

<p>Karwai Tang/WireImage</p> Daisy Ridley on May 29

Karwai Tang/WireImage

Daisy Ridley on May 29

What the Star Wars actress hadn’t necessarily counted on were the physical challenges the role presented. “I don’t like the open water,” she says, but “I wanted to be part of the story so much that even with the fear, I knew I wanted to try.”

Costume designer Gabriele Binder’s recreations of 1920s swimwear were a whole other issue. “The swimming costumes really have the biggest journey” in the film, says Ridley.

As Ederle advances as a swimmer all the way to the frigid English Channel (Young Woman and the Sea filmed those sequences in the Black Sea), “there was a progression” to her costuming, she explains. “I was wearing an easier swimming costume in the warm places, so that was good. And then, I was wearing a bikini when I was freezing and there was no way to wear a wetsuit. So that was also difficult!”

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<p>courtesy of Disney</p> Daisy Ridley in 'Young Woman and the Sea'

courtesy of Disney

Daisy Ridley in 'Young Woman and the Sea'

Binder’s “beautiful” work, she adds, “gave us some fun, slightly more modern looks with the trousers. I was thrilled.”

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Producer Jerry Bruckheimer confirms that while historical accuracy was the priority, slight tweaks in color were made to the swimsuits.

“We had one room that was just covered with photographs of Trudy and what she wore and everything about the period and whatever we could find on her,” the producer, 80, tells PEOPLE. “They pretty much mimicked what was going on in the real world in those days.”

In theaters now, Young Woman and the Sea costars Glenn Fleshler, Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Sian Clifford, Jeanette Hain, Kim Bodnia, Christopher Eccleston and Stephen Graham.

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