The Ottawa Journal from Ottawa,  on August 20, 1964 · Page 27
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The Ottawa Journal from Ottawa, · Page 27

Ottawa, Canada
Issue Date:
Thursday, August 20, 1964
Page 27
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175 SPARKS ST. ; A. ' - THURSDAY, AUGUST 20, 1064 THE OTTAWA JOURNAL 27 '16-Year-Old Thin kfng' Sparked Mary lin's Swim jr ALEXANDER FARRELL WOUNGBORO, tU. (CP-Ooe day, many yaan ago, a tiny M year : old alrl drivini along t b Toronto . Jakefront asked her father a silly question. 1 "Daddy, did anybody ever twlra acroti Uka Ontario?" "No, of course nat." replied ber father. "That'i much too far." The yean went by and the It-year Old. WbOM nam m. Marilyn Bell, didn't grow much Li ... . . . wgger out soe Decame a strong iwimmer. Finally, ea a cool September nigw years ago; she went for twlm in, Lake Ontario, to see how far she could go, ,. About M hours later: at I M P m. Sept a. 154. the became the first person to make it all , tne way across. 3 She was so tired she didn't know where she was, nor was aha aware of the thousands of people crowding the Toronto lakefrent to cheer her victorious arrival. Sitting In the living room of her comfortable home m this quiet . Philadelphia suburb recently, Marilyn now Mrs. Joseph Di Lascio enjoyed re calling ber brief Ufa as - athletic celebrity, but had no! with 4 to experience it all over again. I i suppose It sounds silly to talk' of being m retirement at my age," said the M-year-old Marilyn, "but I accomplished everything I wanted to." It she bad any regrets, they were only that she didn't recall the very moment when victory was hers. "The. Lake Ontario swim is the one that wilt always mean the most to me but I honestly and truly don't remember fin ishing it. "I was amazed when I lis tened to broadcast recordings of the finish and beard all that noise and pandemonium the horns blowing and people yell' Ing and shouting." However, she had no trouble remembering the exciting mo ment, 11:67 p.m. the night of Sept I. 144. when she plunged into the lake from a log re taining wall In Youngstown. N.Y. From Youngstown it Is only a few hundred yards to Canada, tcrbst the Niagara River. The way Marilyn and a few other swimmers intended to go, it is 31 miles. 'All I was thinking about when 1 got into the water was that I wanted to go farther than Florence Chadwick. If she went five miles.. I remember thinking, I would be happy to go six and then get out" Florence . Chadwick of - th United States, the darling of marathon swim fans before Marilyn came along, failed to swim across Lake Ontario but perhaps Marilyn wouldn't have done it either, bad it not been for ber. "I think it really became a serious idea when I heard that the Canadian National Exhibl tton was offering Miss Chadwick a prize to swim across the lake and not Inviting anybody else to. compete for It. "This Just didn't seem right to me. I was II and a Canadian and I didn't think Canadian swimmers should Just sit around and let somebody else be the first to cross the lake. I guess that's a W-year-old's thinking for you but anyway, I Miked about it with Cus and he agreed that I could take a crack at It." , Most of the fanlare at the start in Youngstown surrounded Mist C ha dwlckr Spotlights played; upon her and she even had a U.S. military escort into the water. But the' American woman, then U and at the height of her fame, gave up after few hours In the lake. A third can didate was hauled out later and. by late afternoon, the public's laze was focused right on the Toronto schoolgirl still crawling ber weary way across the lake. What stands out in Marilyn's memory? "Oh, Just about everything ex cept the finish." she said. ' She remembers ber nervous ness about swimming in darkness for the first time In her life and the eels clinging to her thighs: She remembers how badly she wanted to give up in the bleak hours before dawn, how her stomach ached, bow her legs grew numb and how often she wandered how much farther she had to go. "Toward the end. everybody kept telling me it was Just another three miles, but nobody said to where." , Only half-conscious when she! was hauled aboard her coach's boat after touching a Toronto Harbor breakwater, she awoke to International acclaim, an avalanche of glftt and two more years as a headliner. in profes sional swimming. Blown a bit off course by the wind, she had covered a distance of 40 miles In 2f hours U minutes, j Newspaper editors named her! Canada's Woman of the Year la 1954 and again the next year, when she became the youngest person to swim across the English Channel. Her last big swim was in August, MM, when she became the first woman to cross Juan de Fuca Strait from the U.S. to Vancouver' Island. The CNE it sponsoring a race across Lake Onurio Aug. 21 and optimistically offering cash prizes ranging trom F'.eoo io S4M for the first seven finish ers, although only three persons since Marilyn have been able to beat the lake. Marilyn, who picked up the $10,006 prise originally intended for Mist Chadwick in lft and earned about SlOC.eoe during ber swimming career, will be a broadcast commenta tor this time. ru be going across in a boat." she said with a laugh. "Believe me. that's the best way. Besides. I'll see what it's tike at the finish." Journal Want Ada bring quick results. SKIN-DIVER DEFECTS BERLIN () A 21-year-old East Berliner, wearing a skin- diver's mask, swam to West Berlin Wednesday without being detected by Communist border guards. West Berlin police taid. Folio declined to give details of the escape. Mt H H It IdW BUY YOUR BACK-TO-SCHOOL SUPPLIES AND "CHARCE-IT 3 CREDIT PLANS! Shop Friday 12.30 to p p.m. other days 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. fromtbe first moment to the final hour, assurance and understanding SKiheand01ayair .. ... 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