Canadian Open Water Swimmer Marilyn Bell To Be Inducted Into the International Swimming Hall of Fame As Class of 2022 – Updated

Marilyn Bell open water swimmer ishof

At age 16, Miss Marilyn Bell was inspired when she learned that American star swimmer, ISHOF Honoree, Florence Chadwick, was being offered a $10,000 purse to complete a swim across Lake Ontario. Bell wanted the honor to go to a Canadian swimmer. Three swimmers showed up for the attempt with waves of almost 5 meters (15 feet), water temperature of 21°C (65°F) and hungry lamprey eels lurking.  The other two dropped out, but Bell continued. The 20-hour, 59 minutes swim was covered by live radio broadcasts and special newspaper “extras”.


Marilyn Bell, in her Lake Shore jacket; Photo Courtesy: Marilyn Bell

As a result, her landing was witnessed by a crowd of 300,000 people in Toronto. Bell was awarded the purse. This young woman’s courage and achievement resulted in the Canadian Press naming her the Canadian Newsmaker of the Year in 1954.

Marilyn Bell headshot

Canadian Marilyn Bell became the youngest person to swim the English Channel.

About Marilyn Bell

Bell went on to become the youngest person to swim the English Channel. She later swam the Strait of Juan de Fuca off the Pacific coast – her woman’s speed record held for more than 60 years! Bell became a Canadian hero, and the awards and recognition include: Induction into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame and the Ontario Swimming Hall of Fame.  She was named one of Canada’s top athletes of the century and was presented with the Order of Ontario.

George Young, Ed Sullivan, Marilyn Bell, and Cliff Lumsdon in 1954

The Canadian National Historic Sites and Monuments Board designated Bell’s crossing of the lake an Event of National Historic Significance (Canada) and a federal plaque was erected near the site of her landfall.  In addition, the land was named the Marilyn Bell Park.

Marilyn Bell teaching children to swim

Marilyn Bell teaching children to swim

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