Linda McGill, IMSHOF & AMSHOF Honor Swimmer

Linda McGill, IMSHOF & AMSHOF Honor Swimmer

Linda McGill is an Australian who was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1968 as an Honor Swimmer and in the Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in its Class of 2020.

Some of her varied pool and open water swimming exploits include:

  • McGill, along with Dawn Fraser, was banned by the Amateur Swimming Union of Australia as punishment for defying a ban on attending the opening ceremony at 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games where she swam 4 events: 200m breaststroke, 100m butterfly, 400 IM, and 4×100 medley relay.
  • She was a gold medalist in the 4×110 yard medley relay at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth where she Dawn Fraser, Marguerithe Ruygrok and Pam Sargeant set a world record at an exhibition swim two days before the Games.
  • At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, she finished 5th in the individual medley in an Australian record.
  • In August 1965 she completed her first English Channel swim, the first Australian to do so.
  • In July 1967 she swam Sydney Harbour, breaking the American record.
  • In September 1967, she completed her second English Channel swim and four weeks after, the third and record breaking English Channel swim, a new women’s record. This stood for eight years.
  • On New Year’s Day 1968 she received the MBE, then the youngest Australian recipient.
  • In January 1968 Linda won the Port Phillip Bay crossing, the first person to do so.
  • In 1968 she competed in the Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli, Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean, and professional marathon swims in Lake Ontario, Lake Simone and Block Island.
  • In 1968, she swam from Brisbane to Moreton Island and Townsville to Magnetic Island swims.
  • In 1977, she swam from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain and in Rabaul, New Guinea.
  • She wrote an autobiography “Surviving the Sea of Life, The Triumph and Tragedies of an Australian Olympian” published in 2007.
  • In 1964, she crossed the English Channel from France to England in 11 hours 12 minutes.
  • In 1966, she crossed the English Channel from France to England in 14 hours 2 minutes.
  • In 1967, she crossed the English Channel from France to England in 9 hours 59 minutes 56 seconds, setting the women’s record that came close to beating the men’s record (9 hours 45 minutes).
  • In 1967 three months after her English Channel crossing, she became the first person to swim across Port Phillip Bay in Victoria, Australia when she swam 25 miles from Portarlington to Frankston in 14 hours.
  • In 1968, she swam in Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy in 9 hours 52 minutes to finish as the first woman, but was disqualified because her guide became seasick and returned to shore.
  • In 1968, she competed in the Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Canada in 12 hours 2 minutes.
  • In 1976, she became the first person to swim 45 km around Hong Kong Island in 16 hours 6 minutes.
  • In 1977, she became the first person to swim across the Arabian Gulf non-stop.
  • She was the first person to swim from Townsville to Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia.
  • In 1984, she completed a 45.9 km Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in New York in 9 hours 10 minutes.
  • In 1985, she completed the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in 8 hours 24 minutes.
  • In 1986, she completed Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in 8 hours 48 minutes.

Many years ago, Dale Petranech passed on a treasure trove of old hardcover books – some written by a dual inductees in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame like Commander Charles Gerald Forsberg, OBE, RN and Johnny Weissmuller and many photographs from the professional marathon swimming races and other solo marathon swimmers in the 1950’s and 1960’s, including McGill [shown above].

Some of the photographs and background information were compiled by Joe Grossman (1925-1974), a promoter and administrator/secretary of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Federation and the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. Grossman was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1979 as an Honor Administrator and honored with the inaugural 1970 Irving Davids / Captain Roger W. Wheeler Memorial Award for Meritorious Service to Long Distance Swimming.

Grossman wrote the initial draft of the book A History of Marathon Swimming that was eventually written and published in 2018 by Steve Walker. Walker’s book was nominated for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year:

In order to preserve the colorful and rich history of marathon swimming, International Swimming Hall of Fame and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame dual inductee Dale Petranech kept alive his dream of publishing the personal files of World Professional Marathon Swimming Association administrator Joe Grossman. Despite Grossman’s passing in 1974, Petranech faithfully maintained a huge stack of his personally typewritten pages for nearly five decades. Steve Walker edited the comprehensively compiled hundreds of pages of notes, observations, recollections and data from solo swims and competitions in numerous bodies of water around the globe. For colorfully recapturing and reformatting the incredibly detailed and long-lost slices of aquatic history over 536 pages, for publishing first-person recollections in A History of Marathon Swimming released 43 years after Grossman’s death, and for enabling modern-day swimmers to savor an invaluable treasure that describes the achievements of the swimmers, promoters, coaches and pilots from 1875 to 1974 from the English Channel to the Canadian National Exhibition events, the book A History of Marathon Swimming is a worthy nominee for the 2018 World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year.

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Steven Munatones