It was September, 1954. The Canadian National Exhibition was about to open in Toronto, Ont. Florence Chadwick, an internationally known long distance swimmer, agreed to officially open the exhibition by swimming treacherous Lake Ontario, something that had not been done before. Canadian swimmers felt challenged. Two in particular determined to make a race of it. They were Winnie Roach Leuszler, a 28-year-old woman from St. Thomas, Ont., and an unknown honey-blond teenager named Marilyn Bell. Marilyn was 16 years old and weighed 119 pounds. From her pictures she looked more like the little girl next door than a marathon swimmer. But inside that unassuming 5-foot-2 frame towered a mountain of endurance.
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