At age 45, on August 14th, 1991, Patty Thompson became the oldest female to cross the lake with her time of 19 hours 18 minutes from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Leslie Street Spit. The swim was supported by coach Linda Berry and Swim Master Colleen Shields. Water temperatures ranged from 70 to 74°F, and her stroke rate ranged from 68 down to 60 per minute. Due to shoulder pain, she completed the last 2.5 hours on breaststroke. Feeding involved water, Ensure, or hot tea with corn syrup. A previous swim on 6th September 1990 was abandoned due to deteriorating weather after covering 15.5 miles in 6 hours 45 minutes.
Three years after her successful crossing, she is seen here at the dedication ceremony for the plaque at Niagara-on-the-lake.
Patty is a marathon swimmer of some note. She was the Woman's World Champion of the World Professional Marathon Swimming Association in 1969 - beating into second place Judith de Nys of Holland who was the World Champion in 1964-1966, 1968, 1970, and 1971.
Born into a swimming family where her father, the late Jimmy Thompson was dubbed "Mr Swimming" in Hamilton, Ontario. The Thompson name is unique in Canadian swimming where three members of the family have represented Canada in Olympic Games. Jimmy Thompson was a bronze medalist in the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, Holland and was a gold medalist in the 1930 British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Hamilton, Ontario. Patty was a member of Canada's 1964 Olympic swimming team in Tokyo, Japan where she was a member of the relay team which placed seventh and she was a member of the 1962 British Empire and Commonwealth Games swimming team in Perth, Australia placing second and third in relay events. Her brother, Robert Thompson, was a member of the 1972 Canadian Olympic waterpolo team in Munich and coached the 1984 Olympic waterpolo team in Los Angeles.
Patty's swimming career started at the age of 7 years with the Hamilton Aquatic Club which her father coached until 1965 and which she coached for three years after her father's death. She held more Ontario titles than any other female competitor in the Province, established record making marks from the 10-year-old division right through to the 15-16-year-old division, held 19 Ontario Provincial records in one year and held the Canadian records in 1962 for the 220 and 440 yard freestyle, 800 metres, 880 yards and 1500 metres freestyle, together with individual medley marks. She was the first Canadian woman in 1964 to break the 5 minute barrier for the 400 metre freestyle and was inducted into the Swimming Hall of Fame in Fort Lauderdale, Florida in 1970 as the Women's Professional Marathon Swimming champion for winning all of her professional swims: 10 mile Hamilton marathon race; 17 mile Rhode Island marathon race; 12 mile Man and His World marathon; and a 24-hour swim in Santa Fe, Argentina. She was awarded an Achievement Award by Ontario premier Roberts in 1966 for her contribution in the field of fitness and amateur sport. She coached age-group swimmers with the Hamilton Aquatic Club, Etobicoke Memorial Swimming Club, and Alderwood Swimming Club in Etobicoke, and also instructed coaches in Hamilton and Burlington.
Patty started swimming Masters with the Alderwood Teddy Bares in 1989 and was coached by Ted Roach. In 1991, she held 4 Canadian Masters
records and 10 Ontario provincial Masters records.
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Created: 1st October 2000
Last Updated: 25th March 2003