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Canada Day History TidBit #2- The 1950s Polar Bear Swimmer

If you were to think about Canadian stereotypes you would think:

 

We say a 'boot' instead of 'about'

We drink maple syrup

We wear the maple flag on our sleeves

Our favourite sport is hockey

We have to apologize, even when it's not our fault, sorry.

We live and breathe Polar Bear swims

We have a pet beaver and live in igloos....

 

There are countless other funny Canadian stereotypes I am sure you could come up with, however despite being 'Canadian tough' with our weathers, our frigid water temperatures are no exception. As much as we try to brave the 60 second polar bear swims, with saunas, blankets, and medical professionals on standby, think for a minute what you were doing at 16 years old and if you would swim across 51.5km of the pure Canadian cold waters that is Lake Ontario?

 

Marilyn Bell, at the age of 16, was the first person to ever swim across Lake Ontario on September 8th, 1954, through harsh conditions, from Youngstown NY, until she swam to the edge of Toronto's Western shore. It took her 20 hours and 59 minutes to complete these feet and is described by 'The Canadian Encyclopedia  as a 'quintessential Canadian achievement- who was not defeated by the elements'.

 

She made Canadian history and a name for herself as a swimmer by also being the youngest person to swim the English Channel among other titles through out her swimming career. Although through the decades her time was exceeded by other athletes, she is not forgotten as being not only brave and dedicated, but charming and intelligent. She is celebrated for her accomplishment, but also for her good character, which goes to show us what it means to be truly Canadian. C.M.W

 

Facts were taken from online from- The Canadian Encyclopedia

 

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