1954: Marilyn Bell swims Lake Ontario
Bell wasn't offered any money but The Toronto Star covered her journey and provided a boat and a crew. Bell persevered through the cold water as lamprey eels assaulted her legs. Radio stations broadcast hourly updates of her journey. By the time she finished her crossing, a crowd of approximately 100,000 people had assembled at the CNE to welcome her arrival. In this clip, Marilyn describes her journey, her motivation and hopes for the future.
• Bell was already a celebrated amateur swimmer before she crossed Lake Ontario, having won the Lou Marsh Trophy - awarded annually to Canada's top athlete - in 1953. In 1954, she turned professional and was the first woman to complete the 26-mile Atlantic City Marathon.
• She was also the youngest person to swim across the English Channel on July 31, 1955.
• On August 23, 1956, Bell became the first woman to conquer the Straits of Juan de Fuca in her second attempt.
• She retired in 1956 and married swimmer Joe Di Lascio. They moved to New Jersey and raised four children together.
Program: CBC Radio News
Broadcast Date: Sept. 9, 1954
Guest(s): Marilyn Bell
Reporter: Bill Beatty
Photo: Reproduced with the permission of Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.
Last updated: February 6, 2012
Page consulted on December 6, 2013
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