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“Young Woman and the Sea” First Look: See Daisy Ridley Become a Trailblazing Swimmer (Exclusive)

'Young Woman and the Sea' is in select theaters May 31

<p>Elena Nenkova/Disney Enterprises</p> Daisy Ridley in "Young Woman and the Sea"

Elena Nenkova/Disney Enterprises

Daisy Ridley in "Young Woman and the Sea"

Daisy Ridley is channeling an inspiring true story in Young Woman and the Sea.

Based on the 2022 book Young Woman and the Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World by Glenn Stout, the new film stars Ridley as Gertrude "Trudy" Ederle, the first woman to successfully swim the English Channel.

PEOPLE has the exclusive first look of the movie, with photos showing Ridley in character and behind the scenes.

"The most surprising thing about this story is how few people know what Trudy did," Ridley, 31, says in a statement. "What she accomplished was not only a personal achievement, but ground breaking for women in sport."

"I’m excited for people to see this film in all its beauty and experience this journey, with all its difficulty and hope and ultimately joy," the Star Wars actress adds.

Related: Daisy Ridley Says She Kept a Lightsaber and Ring from Star Wars: ‘They’re in a Safe Place’ (Exclusive)

<p>Elena Nenkova/Disney Enterprises</p> "Young Woman and the Sea"

Elena Nenkova/Disney Enterprises

"Young Woman and the Sea"

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<p>Elena Nenkova/Disney Enterprises</p> "Young Woman and the Sea"

Elena Nenkova/Disney Enterprises

"Young Woman and the Sea"

Ederle "was born to immigrant parents in New York City in 1905," according to a synopsis.

"Through the steadfast support of her older sister and supportive trainers, she overcame adversity and the animosity of a patriarchal society to rise through the ranks of the Olympic swimming team and complete the staggering achievement: a 21-mile trek from France to England."

<p>Elena Nenkova/Disney Enterprises</p> "Young Woman and the Sea"

Elena Nenkova/Disney Enterprises

"Young Woman and the Sea"

The cast also includes Tilda Cobham-Hervey, Stephen Graham, Kim Bodnia, Christopher Eccleston and Glenn Fleshler.

Director Joachim Rønning (2019's Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) says he "fell in love" with Ederle’s story "the moment I read Jeff Nathanson’s wonderful script."

<p>Elena Nenkova/Disney Enterprises</p> "Young Woman and the Sea"

Elena Nenkova/Disney Enterprises

"Young Woman and the Sea"

"As a father of two teenage daughters, I really wanted to make a film that resonated with them, about a girl that changed the world," says Rønning.

Rønning says in order to elevate the film's realism, he "didn’t want blue screens and computer-generated images."

<p>Joachim Rønning/Disney Enterprises</p>

Joachim Rønning/Disney Enterprises

Related: Daisy Ridley Says She Had to Make 'the First Two Star Wars Films to Feel Worthy' of Being in Franchise

<p>Joachim Rønning/Disney Enterprises</p>

Joachim Rønning/Disney Enterprises

"I wanted to be in the elements, like old-school movie-making. It’s a challenging way to film, but I believe the audience will be able to feel that dedication from the cast and crew," the filmmaker adds.

About his leading star, Rønning raves of Ridley, "Besides being an amazing actress, she proved her skills and dedication on a daily basis, swimming in 60-degree water until her lips turned blue."

<p>Joachim Rønning/Disney Enterprises</p>

Joachim Rønning/Disney Enterprises

"Very few actors could have done what she did — man or woman," he adds.

Young Woman and the Sea is in select theaters May 31.

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