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September 9, 2004
Salute to "The Lady of the Lake"
  
Fifty years ago today, Marilyn Bell became the first person to swim across Lake
Ontario. Bell, a 16-year-old Toronto high-school student, swam the 51.5
kilometres between Youngstown, N. Y. and Toronto in 20 hours and 55 minutes. On
the evening of September 9, 1954 cheered on by thousands of onlookers, she
touched the breakwall at Sunnyside. Rough waters had caused her to veer off
course of her original destination - the breakwall in front of the Canadian
National Exhibition grounds.

She became an instant celebrity in Canada and around the world. Bell's historic
swim caused a media frenzy not seen since the end of World War II. Radio
stations gave hourly updates about her progress and newspapers printed extra
editions.

Mayor David Miller telephoned Marilyn Bell today to commemorate the 50th
anniversary of her remarkable accomplishment. "Marilyn captured the hearts of
Torontonians and all Canadians," he said. "She has been and will continue to be
a role model and an inspiration to young women athletes."

After completing the Lake Ontario swim, Marilyn Bell took on other challenges.
She became the youngest person to swim across the English Channel on July 31,
1955. On her second attempt, Bell became the first woman to swim the Straits of
Juan de Fuca on August 23, 1956.

She was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame and the Ontario Aquatic Hall
of Fame.

The documentary that was made about the swim was appropriately named The Lady
of the Lake - a title that will always belong to Marilyn Bell.

Media contact:
Kevin Sack, Corporate Communications, 416-397-5277



 

 

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