Marilyn Bell DiLascio, Hall of Fame Marathon Open Water Swimmer, Announced as Special Guest and Official Starter For the 55th Around the Island® Swim

ATLANTIC CITY, NJ (Wednesday, July 14, 2021) – The Organizing Committee of the 2nd Annual Jim Whelan Open Water Festival, featuring the 55th Around the Island® Swim, is proud to announce that Marilyn Bell DiLascio, O. Ont., will be appearing as a special guest and official Starter for the legendary open water marathon swim taking place on Sunday August 1, 2021.

Marilyn cemented her place in history in September 1954 as she set a world record for being the first person to swim across Lake Ontario. But it was a few months earlier here in Atlantic City competing in the first organized Around The Island® Swim where she started her marathon swimming career. She became the first woman to complete the course, and at just 16 years of age, shocked spectators as she beat out over half of the seasoned male competitors. Marilyn’s ties to the Around The Island® Swim go even deeper. It was during this race she met her future husband, Joseph “Chip” DiLascio. Chip was one of the ACBP lifeguards she encountered as she was training for the race.

“I’m thrilled that the organizers of the Jim Whelan Open Water Festival have invited me to be a part of the Around The Island® Swim again,” says DiLascio. “This race holds a special place in my heart and it’s a wonderful thing to see it still going strong 67 years after I swam it.”

Marilyn’s numerous awards and honors include induction to Canada Sports Hall of Fame, Ontario Aquatic Hall of Fame, International Marathon Swimming Hall Of Fame and, most recently, the International Swimming Hall of Fame. She is the recipient of the Order Of Ontario and some years ago Toronto, the city of her birth, welcomed her to Marilyn Bell Park on the shore of Lake Ontario, where she completed her swim in 1954. Marilyn continues to mentor and encourage open water swimmers from around the world, always emphasizing the importance of safe swimming practice for the swimmers and their support teams.

“Our motto for the race is ‘honoring nostalgia in service to our community.’ What Marilyn’s accomplished during both her swimming career and personal life certainly embodies this and we’re so honored to have her join us,” says Green Whales, Inc. trustee Melissa Peticolas.

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The Around the Island® Swim is a 22.75mi (36.6km) open water marathon swim that circumnavigates Absecon Island in southern New Jersey. The legendary swim, which started as a $100 bet back in 1953 between two beach patrol members, became one of the premier open water events in the world. After a hiatus, the race was resurrected in 2019 as part of the Jim Whelan Open Water Festival, named after the late Atlantic City Mayor, NJ State Senator, and advocate of swimming and water safety education. All proceeds from the festival benefit Green Whales, Inc. a NJ non-profit supporting various children’s swim programs in Atlantic County, NJ. Visit for more information.

Jessica Kasunich

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