Solo Swims of Ontario Inc.

Hall of Fame

Shaun Chisholm

- A Fire-Fighter with a Dream-

At 12:04 pm on Saturday 16th August 2008, 40-year-old fire-fighter Shaun Chisholm climbed steps to Marilyn Bell Park to complete his successful crossing of Lake Ontario in a time of 19 hours 23 minutes.

For Shaun, however, this achievement was more than just a challenge of his swimming prowess. Shaun swam regularly with the head of the Ross Tilley Burn Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, and often responded to fire incidents where victims would end-up in the Burn Centre. As a fire-fighter he regularly sees the devastating effects that fire can have upon the human body . . . and no more so when the victim happens to be a child.

Shaun commented that "The suffering and lengthy recovery caused by burns always weighs heavily on fire crews. After being involved in a few fires where children were hurt, Sick Kids hospital was a natural choice for our fund-raising efforts."

So Shaun's dream was to raise funds for the Burns Unit of The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.

While treating burnt fighter pilots during World War II, Scottish plastic surgeon Professor Tom Gibson, noted that skin transplants might first appear successful but, in most cases, would go on to be rejected by the body. A subsequent transplant to the same individual would generate an even faster rejection. Tom's student Peter Medaware went on to research this phenomenon and, subsequently, was awarded the Nobel Prize and a Knighthood for his work on the Immune Reaction. Our knowledge of this immune reaction has led to tissue-typing prior to organ transplants as a common every-day occurrence; however, the management of burns patients, especially when the burn covers more than half of the body is still a critical process. Researchers continue to develop specialized low-pressure beds, fluid tanks, and synthetic tissues to aid the physicians and surgeons in their struggle to rehabilitate these burnt patients.

The challenge to draw attention to, and to supplement the funding for, research, equipment and facilities for these advancements, was a goal and a dream for Shaun.

Shaun's efforts involved a team of contributors both on land and on the water. He noted that the fund-raising was more difficult than the training and he would never have been able to raise much money without the help of his father, Tony Chisholm, and their mutual friend Steve Benson of Benson Steel.

A wonderful pictorial slide show is provided by the Sick Kids website that exists as a tribute to their efforts.

Since his swim, Shaun became an active member of the Board of Directors of Solo Swims and continues to contribute enthusiastically to its safety goals and to act as a Swim Master for other Lake Ontario aspirants.

Shaun was born in Toronto and always enjoyed nordic skiing. He ran throughout his time at university and picked-up swimming and cycling when he ventured into triathlons.

Eventually, he found that his shoulders were much stronger than his knees - so he slowly eased into marathon swimming in support of various charities - and everyone benefited.

As the adjacent image shows, Shaun takes even his model aviation interests with great seriousness. - a feature that his son will likely appreciate as he gets older and large enough to hold one of these model planes. In the meantime, Shaun keeps busy with his young family.

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Created: 23rd March 2011
Last Updated: 8th March 2024