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Brenda Fisher

On the 13th August 1956, 28-year-old Brenda Fisher became the third person to swim Lake Ontario. Her time of 18 hours 51 minutes broke Marilyn Bell's record time by 2 hours 4 minutes. She started at 10:45 pm from Niagara-on-the-Lake on 12th August and finished at the eastern tip of Cherry Beach, Toronto.

The Globe & Mail reported this was the 41st attempt on Lake Ontario in the previous two years, and that Brenda swam through rain, darkness and intense sun with a freestyle rate of 52 strokes per minute. She fed on sweet tepid tea, biscuits and sugar cubes. Typical of Lake Ontario in the summer months, Brenda finished a few minutes before a torrential thunderstorm engulfed the Toronto lake-front.


An attempt in the previous year to swim Lake Ontario was unsuccessful. At age 20, Brenda was the 1948 champion of the Morecambe Bay swim (a 10 mile cross-bay sea swim in north-west England). In 1951, Brenda broke the Women's Record for the English Channel by 73 minutes in crossing from France to England in 12 hours 42 minutes. The win gave her the Festival of Britain cup as the fastest lady and the Eva Peron trophy for being the first British lady to finish. She completed a second crossing of the Channel in 1954 in 14 hours 36 minutes. Subsequently, Brenda was named as Britain's leading sportswoman of 1952. In 1956, Brenda was the fastest woman to have completed the 29-mile Nile River race.

Brenda was the daughter of a trawler Skipper from Grimsby, Lincolnshire in England. Her sister, Jessie, was the 1947 champion of the Morecambe Bay swim. Their brother, Buster, was also a swimmer who had swum the Humber River; he was killed in the Second World War. Brenda was reported to have said that her change from sprint swimming to open-water races was as a tribute to her brother after his death.


In December 2017, Brenda was a recipient of the British Empire Medal. 

Lucy Wood wrote a biography on Brenda "Blonde In Deep Water".

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