Cliff Lumsden Shocked The Highest Echelon Of The Sport

Cliff Lumsden Shocked The Highest Echelon Of The Sport

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

In the 1949 Canadian National Exhibition, a young Canadian from New Toronto shocked the professional marathon swimming world in the 15-mile championship.

Due to the 51°F (10.5°C) water, only three swimmers out of the original 82 finished. 18-year-old Clifford Lumsden won in 7 hours 54 minutes to win the $5,500 first prize plus $50 for each of the 15 laps plus $50 for the fastest mile. Lumsden handily beat Ben Gazil of Toronto (8 hours 21 minutes) and Bill Sadlo, Jr. of New York (9 hours 44 minutes).

How much was the $6,300 prize month in 1949 worth nowadays? An impressive $61,830.

That was certainly not a bad first prize for the young 18-year-old who was awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada’s top athlete in 1949.

But there was nothing like the $84,000 that Lumsden received for his victory at the 1955 Across Lake Ontario race where he finished the 32-mile race in 19 hours 48 minutes. That $84,000 would be worth $744,123 today.

He later said that the only regret in his long career was giving up his amateur status before the 1948 London Olympics.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association
Steven Munatones