Brenda Fisher

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Brenda Fisher
Personal information
Full nameBrenda Fisher
BornJune 1927
Scartho, England

Brenda Fisher (born June 1927), is an English long-distance swimmer. In 1951 she broke the women's world record for swimming the English Channel.

Fisher was born and raised in Scartho, North East Lincolnshire,[1] the daughter of a Grimsby trawler skipper, learned to swim at the age of 9, and initially became a speed swimmer.[2][3][4]

In 1951 she was the 23rd swimmer of the English Channel from France to England, completing in a new record women's time of 12 hours 42 minutes, breaking the previous women's record of 13:20 set by Florence Chadwick a year earlier.[5][6] A crowd of 60,000 turned out to welcome her back to Grimsby.[7]

Fisher swam the Channel again in 1954, and was the first woman ashore.[8][9] In 1956, Fisher completed and won the 29-mile (47 km) River Nile Swim, then at the fastest time.[10][11]

In September 1956, Fisher took part in the 32-mile (51 km) Lake Ontario swim from Niagara to Toronto, completing in 18 hours and 50 minutes, 2 hours and 6 minutes faster than the previous record set by Marilyn Bell.[2][10] At that point, she was the third person in history to complete the swim. She attempted the Ontario swim again in 1957 but retired after 12 hours 43 minutes,[12] during a thunder storm which threatened to sink her support boats.[7]

Fisher, with Stanley Baker, was one of the judges in the 1954 Prestatyn "Easy To Love" Bathing Beauty Contest.[13]

Fisher married Paddy Johnson, footballer with Grimsby Town F.C. After retiring, she became a swimming teacher in Grimsby.[14]

In 2015, her biography was published. Blonde In Deep Water is written by local journalist Lucy Wood.[15]

In 2016, she appeared on the BBC Television series Flog It!, to sell her Clarice Cliff 'Inspiration' vase at auction.[7] and in June 2018 she appeared on Antiques Roadshow with her collection of swimming memorabilia.[16]

Fisher received in 2018 the British Empire Medal, as part of the Queen's New Year Honours list, for her achievements in the sport of swimming.[17] A blue plaque in her honour was erected in Grimsby in 2017.[18]


  1. ^ "Amazing life of Grimsby's record-breaking Channel swimmer recorded in new book"[permanent dead link], Grimsby Telegraph, 8 August 2015, Retrieved 17 March 2016
  2. ^ a b "Brenda Ready To Swim Anything Provided It’s Made Worthwhile"; The Montreal Gazette 15 August 1956. Retrieved 11 June 2012
  3. ^ "60 years on, record-breaker Brenda recalls her race to British shores" Archived 5 May 2013 at; Grimsby Telegraph, 16 August 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2012
  4. ^ "Brenda Fisher"; Solo Swims of Ontario Inc. Hall of Fame. Retrieved 11 June 2012
  5. ^ "Channel Swim Won By Egyptian". Cairns Post. 18 August 1951.
  6. ^ "Florence Chadwick - Solo Channel Swimmer". Channel Swimming: Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  7. ^ a b c "Grimsby 5 (from 30.00 min.)". Flog It!. Series 15. 10 November 2016. BBC Television. Retrieved 10 November 2016.
  8. ^ "'A remarkable lady'"; Grimsby Telegraph, 14 September 2011. Retrieved 11 June 2012
  9. ^ *"Portuguese Wins Channel Swim 1954"; British Pathe. Retrieved 11 June 2012
  10. ^ a b "Brenda Fisher Beats Marilyn Bell Record"; Solo Swims of Ontario Inc. Hall of Fame Globe and Mail 14 August 1956. Retrieved 11 June 2012
  11. ^ "Brenda Fisher Wins Nile Swim 1956"; British Pathe. Retrieved 11 June 2012
  12. ^ "Brenda Fisher Swims Ontario"; The Palm Beach Post, 14 August 1958. Retrieved 11 June 2012
  13. ^ ""Easy To Love" Bathing Beauty Contest 1954"; British Pathe. Retrieved 11 June 2012
  14. ^ "Two Grimsby sporting heroes call on athletes to make waves at London 2012"; Grimsby Telegraph, 9 March 2012. Retrieved 11 June 2012
  15. ^ "A story of a lady who made our town great!"[permanent dead link]; Grimsby Telegraph. Retrieved 6 March 2015
  16. ^ "Champion Long Distance Swimmer Brenda Fisher", Antiques Roadshow, BBC One. Retrieved 3 February 2021
  17. ^ "Champion swimmer Brenda Fisher receives British Empire Medal", Grimsby Telegraph, 21 May 2018. Retrieved 11 September 2019
  18. ^ "Brenda Fisher: Channel swimmer honoured with blue plaque", BBC News, 6 December 2017. Retrieved 3 February 2021

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