24 Facts About Marilyn Bell


Marilyn Grace Bell Di Lascio was born on October 19,1937 and is a Canadian retired long distance swimmer.


Marilyn Bell was the first person to swim across Lake Ontario and later swam the English Channel and Strait of Juan de Fuca.


Marilyn Bell earned a BA, became an American citizen and was a teacher for over twenty years.


Marilyn Bell was able to return to swimming in 2016 at her retirement home when swimming instructor Terry Laughlin helped her change her swimming style from a "classic 50s style" to one that did not put as much strain on her spine.


Marilyn Bell first took up swimming lessons in 1946 at Oakwood Pool, joining the Dolphinette Club coached by Alex Duff.


In 1947, Marilyn Bell entered her first long-distance race: a one-mile swim at the Canadian National Exhibition in Lake Ontario.


Marilyn Bell soon joined the Lakeshore Club and started practising at the indoor pool of Humberside Collegiate in Toronto.


On September 8,1954, at 11:07 pm, Marilyn Bell started her swim across Lake Ontario from Youngstown, New York, at virtually the same time as world-famous United States long-distance swimmer Florence Chadwick.


The offer to Chadwick had disappointed Canadian swimmers, Marilyn Bell included, who had expected the CNE to hold a marathon race.


Marilyn Bell kept up her strength with Pablum, corn syrup, and lemon juice with water, along with heroic encouragement from her boat crew, including fellow swimmer Joan Cooke and her coach, Gus Ryder.


At the start, Marilyn Bell was accompanied by two boats, but a flotilla of boats gathered around her by mid-day.


CNE officials had hoped that Marilyn Bell would arrive at the CNE waterfront, where a grandstand had been set up, but Ryder guided her to Sunnyside where the amusement park was brightly lit and she could navigate to, and the waves were smaller.


Marilyn Bell was the first person ever to swim the 32 miles distance.


Marilyn Bell later recounted that she did not hear the crowds cheering when she arrived at the waterfront.


Marilyn Bell heard the cheering for the first time when she heard a recording made by a radio station a few days later.


Marilyn Bell's crossing started at Cap Gris-Nez and ended at Abbotscliff, between Dover and Folkestone.


Marilyn Bell was guided by her coach Gus Ryder and John Boswell.


Marilyn Bell did not beat the existing record for the crossing, hitting a strong current which took her past Dover Harbour.


Marilyn Bell retired from marathon swimming in December 2003 after completing her personal 'Triple Crown'.


In 1954, Marilyn Bell was named the Canadian Newsmaker of the Year by The Canadian Press, awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's athlete of the year and awarded the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award as Canadian female athlete of the year.


Marilyn Bell was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1958.


Marilyn Bell was inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.


In 2003, Bell was presented with the Order of Ontario.


The National Historic Sites and Monuments Board designated Marilyn Bell's crossing of the lake a National Historic Event in 2005, and a federal plaque was erected in 2008 near the site of her landfall.