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Cliff Lumsdon

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Cliff Lumsdon, an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer, inducted in 1969 and an International Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Swimmer inducted in 2014
Jerry Kerschner congratulating Cliff Lumsdon at the 1950 Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Canada
Cliff Lumsdon was inducted in the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Open Water Swimmer in the Class of 2012

Clifford Douglas "Cliff" Lumsdon Jr., CM, O.Ont (13 April 1931 – 31 August 1991) was a Canadian world champion marathon swimmer from New Toronto. He was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honor Swimmer in the Class of 1969 and in the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an Open Water Swimmer in the Class of 2014. Lumsdon was coached by Gus Ryder at the Lakeshore Swimming Club. He turned professional when he was 16 and would later say that the only regret in his career was giving up his amateur status before the 1948 London Olympics.

Open Water Swimming Highlights

  • He was a five-time world champion between 1949 and 1954.
  • He was known for his ability to swim in cold water, once going 51.5 km (42 miles) in 18-plus hours in water temperatures ranging between 8.8° - 11.1°C (48°F - 52°F).
  • He won $84,000 for his 1955 Canadian National Exhibition swim and won it a total of 4 times.
  • He finished 2nd in the first 41.8 km (26-mile) Around-the-Island Marathon Swim around Absecon Island in Atlantic City, New Jersey, USA on 26 July 1954 in 9 hours 25 minutes 10 seconds.
  • In 1949, at the age of 18, Lumsdon won the world marathon swimming championship in Toronto, defeating 46 competitors in the annual 15-mile race at the Canadian National Exhibition. He won $6,400—$5,500 for winning the race and $800 for leading all laps and swimming the fastest lap. On the strength of that victory, he was awarded the Lou Marsh Trophy as Canada's top athlete of 1949.
  • He would go on to win four more marathons at the CNE, including a 42-mile race along the Lake Ontario waterfront in 1955 (replacing a planned cross-lake competition). Lumsdon was the only one of 29 starters to complete the course—no other swimmer even made it to the halfway point. Lumsdon was accompanied for part of the race by his fiancee, and by fellow Lakeshore swimmer Marilyn Bell, riding in a boat. Lumsdon won $15,000 for his victory, plus thousands more in bonus money.
  • After two second-place finishes in previous years, Lumsdon won the 26-mile Atlantic City Around the Island Swim on 16 August 1956.
  • He became the second swimmer, after Bert Thomas, to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca in British Columbia.
  • He retired in 1965 with career earnings of $152,000.
  • He coached his daughter, Kim Lumsdon, who was also a top marathon swimmer, and accompanied her during her swim across Lake Ontario in 1966.
  • He was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame in 1966.
  • He received the Order of Ontario in 1989.
  • He was a recipient of the Order of Canada in 1982.
  • In March 1988, a park in Toronto was named Cliff Lumsdon Park in his honour.
  • He is the namesake for the Cliff Lumsdon Award, presented for outstanding achievement in marathon swimming in Ontario. Lumsdon died in 1991 at age 60.

Throughout his career, Lumsdon's last name was frequently misspelled as Lumsden.

International Swimming Hall of Fame Induction

As a member of the Class of 2014 in the International Swimming Hall of Fame, Lumsdon's induction is as follows:

FOR THE RECORD: FIVE-TIME WORLD PROFESSIONAL MARATHON CHAMPION: 1949-1954; ATLAN­TIC CITY 22 MILE (45.2K) PROFESSIONAL SWIM: 1st (‘56, ‘59), 2nd (‘54, ‘55, ‘58, ‘60, ‘62), 4rd (‘61), 4th (‘64, ‘64); 10 MILE CANADIAN NATIONAL EXHIBITION (CNE) PROFESSIONAL SWIMS: 1st (‘49, ‘50, ‘52, ‘54), 4rd (‘51), 5th (‘48); 1955 42 MILE CNE SWIM RACE: Only Finisher in Field of 45 Swimmers; STRAIGHTS OF JUAN DE FUCA: 1956.

Cliff Lumsdon was one of the world’s great long distance swimmers. He was five-time world champion between 1949 and 1954. He was known for his ability to swim in cold water, once going 42 miles in 18 plus hours in water temperatures ranging between 48 and 52 degrees F. His cold-water abilities were reflected in his 1956, 11 hour 45 minute crossing of the Straits Juan de Fuca between Washington State and Vancouver Island where water temperatures are reported to average 48 F. Cliff was the second person to cross the straits, after Bert Thomas in 1955. He completed ten Atlantic City Marathon Swims from 1954 - 1964, placing first or second in seven of them. He competed in six CNE swims in Lake Ontario winning four of them. In 1949, he won the Lou Marsh Trophy, for the outstanding Canadian Athlete of the year, and was inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1966 as well as the Ontario Aquatic Hall of Fame in 1994. The Cliff Lumsdon Award is presented for outstanding achievement in marathon swimming in Ontario.

IMSHOF Video

1959 Canadian National Exhibition Swim

External links