Nearly a century ago, Trudy Ederle tried to become the first woman to swim the English Channel from France to Dover. “Young Woman and the Sea” tells her story, with Daisy Ridley in the lead.

It’s too bad this movie is being released just months after Netflix started streaming “Nyad,” with Annette Bening as the American who, in her sixties, made the even-longer swim from Cuba to Key West, Florida.

Nonetheless, “Young Woman and the Sea” tells its inspirational story very well. What sets it apart from “Nyad” is that Ederle was making waves (pun intended) at a time when young women were discouraged from swimming — in the ocean or a pool. She also had to battle a father and other men who placed obstacles in her way. Yet Trudy was not to be denied, winning races as a young girl and setting more than two dozen world records in her teens before going on to win medals at the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. After that, she set her sights on swimming the channel.

Ridley is very good as Ederle, with just the right mix of determination and guile. Even if she didn’t do all the open-water swimming, director Joachim Rønning makes it look like she did. He and cinematographer Óscar Faura capture the feel of New York’s Lower East Side, full of immigrants and shops and people in the streets. And when the story moves to Europe and then out to sea, they show the vastness of Ederle’s effort.

Even though I knew how “Young Woman and the Sea” would end, it was the journey that kept me riveted. Despite being a Disney movie, it never gets too sappy, thanks to the script by Jeff Nathanson, based on Glenn Stout’s book. The supporting cast includes Tilda Cobham-Hervey — who I first praised as Helen Reddy in 2019’s “I Am Woman” (which I reviewed here) — as Trudy’s sister, Meg, who spent a lot of time in the water, too. Jeanette Hain is wonderful as their proud mother, who urges her daughter forward and follows her progress proudly. Kim Bodnia hits just the right notes as their rough-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside father. And Stephen Graham steals a few scenes as Bill Burgess, the second person to swim the channel, who comes aboard for Trudy’s attempt to do the same.

As with “Nyad,” you can’t make a movie about long-distance swimmers without showing them moving through the sea, stroke by stroke, lonely figures in a wide, watery world. Yet both movies make their subjects more than that, and have me rooting for them all the way. By the way, if you’re looking for role models for your kids, or just need a big-screen movie for them to enjoy, take them to see this one.

I give “Young Woman and the Sea” an 8.5 out of 10. The film was initially going to debut exclusively on Disney+, but later changed to a limited theatrical release to tie in with this summer’s Olympics in Paris. Opens today in theaters.