Saturday, September 7, 2013

Strong is Sexy Woman of the Past/Heart: The Marilyn Bell Story

I watched a biographical movie on TV last month and it introduced me to a woman I'd never heard of before but will never forget.

In 1954, this girl was the first person to ever swim across Lake Ontario, from the NY side to the Canadian side. 21 hours in the water, over 32 miles. She passed out three times. Fell asleep...and trudged on when American swimming starlet Florence Chadwick was forced to bail due to hypothermia.

In the movie, we meet a sixteen-year-old Marilyn. She has a horrid mother, a mother that tells her she's not good it's best to not try. Naturally, this drives Marilyn to be good at something. I think driving her along was def the desire the please that awful mother.

Marilyn approaches a coach known for making swimmers into champions. He refuses to take her on at first and she proceeds to stay in the pool and swim for two hours straight. She's persistent.

The real Marilyn.
Meanwhile, the CNE (some kind of Canadian entertainment people) hire the famous Florence to swim lake Ontario, as they're desperately trying to compete with television and draw in the crowds. This was funny, actually. A very nice touch, the two competing publicity people. You'd have to see it to understand it. It's even more hilarious when their plans go awry and they suddenly sing a different tune. At first, when Marilyn announces she's competing against the starlet, the CNE people are mad...but they sorta betrayed their own people by bringing in an American to cross their lake.

So Marilyn has a heck of a lot to proof--to her mother, her country, her coach, herself...and that stuck up Florence who waited like 4 days to do the swim...ugh. Long story.

The movie Marilyn
The last half of the movie is Marilyn actually swimming it...and I swear I didn't think she'd make it. I felt my own muscles ache as I watched her. I got mad at her coach as he yelled at her. I wanted to scream at her mother, "Are you happy now?? Oh, NOW that's your girl?" I felt the eels around her legs.

And...this is a true story! At the age of sixteen, Marilyn Bell was the first to swim across Lake Ontario. She proceeded to become the youngest to swim the English Channel and she retired at 19 to be a teacher.

This is a woman worth learning about. I recommend watching this incredible movie (released in 2001 and starring Caroline Dhavernas, Amy Sloan, and Ron White--not the comedian) or just taking a moment of your day to think about this incredible feat. a prime example of strong is sexy! It's a woman with HEART. Sometimes, that's what we need most of all.

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