Linda McGill

From Openwaterpedia
Undated photo of Linda McGill, MBE from the archives of Joe Grossman
Linda McGill feeding during her English Channel crossing
John Konrads with Linda McGill

Linda McGill, MBE (born 17 December 1945) is an Australian pool and open water swimmer who was inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1968 as an Honor Swimmer.

Swimming Career Highlights

  • McGill, along with Dawn Fraser, was banned by the Amateur Swimming Union of Australia as punishment for defying a ban on attending the opening ceremony at 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games where she swam 4 events: 200m breaststroke, 100m butterfly, 400 IM and 4x100 medley relay.
  • She was a gold medalist in the 4x110 yard medley relay at the 1962 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia.
  • At age 9, she won freestyle and breaststroke events at all district carnivals and was spotted by Olympic coach Frank Guthrie. With Guthrie, she won all her trials, set a breaststroke record and began swimming butterfly.
  • By age 13, she won seven age group state championships and was selected for the national competition, finishing second in her event.
  • In 1958 she joined Forbes Carlyle's coaching, then in 1960 Don Talbot.
  • At the 1961 Australian Swimming Championship in Brisbane, the 15-year-old won the open national title.
  • In 1962 at these championships, she won the 440 yards individual medley and 110 yards butterfly and was second in the 220 yards breaststroke.
  • She was selected for the Perth Commonwealth Games squad. McGill, Dawn Fraser, Marguerithe Ruygrok and Pam Sargeant won the medley relay in world record time at an exhibition swim two days before the Games.
  • At the Games, she won bronze in the 110 yards butterfly, silver in the individual medley and, in world record time, gold in the medley relay. She won five national titles in three days - a women's record. She won 100m butterfly, 200m butterfly, 400m individual medley, 200m individual medley and 200m breaststroke. The butterfly and medley times were Australian records and selection for the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games was automatic.
  • At the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, she finished 5th in the individual medley in an Australian record.
  • In the 1964 Ceylon Swimming Association competition, she re-wrote the record books.
  • In August 1965 she completed her first English Channel swim, the first Australian to do so.
  • In July 1967 she swam Sydney Harbour, breaking the American record.
  • In September 1967, she completed her second English Channel swim and four weeks after, the third and record breaking English Channel swim, a new women's record. This stood for eight years.
  • On New Year's Day 1968 she received the MBE, then the youngest Australian recipient.
  • In January 1968 Linda won the Port Phillip Bay crossing, the first person to do so.
  • In 1968 she swam from Capri to Naples; in Canada she swam Lake Ontario, lac St John and Lake Simone and in the US, Block Island to Rhode Island.
  • In 1968, she swam from Brisbane to Moreton Island and Townsville to Magnetic Island swims.
  • On 28 August 1968, she swam 10.4 miles from the Rhode Island mainland to Block Island naked to avoid chafing with 17 swimmers from 8 countries from Sand Hill Cove State Beach to Block Island as part of the John P. Fogarty Memorial Swim.
  • In 1972, she swam around Hong Kong.
  • In 1977, she swam from Saudi Arabia to Bahrain and in Rabaul, New Guinea.
  • Between 1983 and 1986, she swam three times in the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, the first Australian to swim around Manhattan Island in 1983.
  • In 1989 she competed in the World Masters Games in Rio de Janeiro.
  • She wrote an autobiography "Surviving the Sea of Life, The triumph and tragedies of an Australian Olympian" published in 2007.
  • In 1964, she crossed the English Channel from France to England in 11 hours 12 minutes.
  • In 1966, she crossed the English Channel from France to England in 14 hours 2 minutes.
  • In 1967, she crossed the English Channel from France to England in 9 hours 59 minutes 56 seconds, setting the women's record that came very close to beating the men's record (9 hours 45 minutes).
  • In 1967 three months after her English Channel crossing, she became the first person to swim across Port Phillip Bay in Victoria, Australia when she swam 25 miles from Portarlington to Frankston in 14 hours in a shark cage.
  • In 1968, she swam in 36 km Maratona del Golfo Capri-Napoli in Italy in 9 hours 52 minutes to finish as the first woman, but was disqualified because her guide became seasick and returned to shore.
  • On 4 August 1968, she competed in the Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean in Quebec, Canada in 12 hours 2 minutes 44 seconds at the age of 22.
  • On 24 May 1976, she became the first person to swim 28 miles (45 km) around Hong Kong Island in 16 hours 6 minutes at the age of 29 with her manager Dr. John Folay.
  • In 1977, she became the first person to swim across the Arabian Gulf non-stop at the age of 32.
  • She was the first person to swim from Townsville to Magnetic Island, Queensland, Australia in a shark cage.
  • On 24 July 1984, she completed a 45.9 km circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island in New York City in 9 hours 10 minutes 55 seconds.
  • On 26 August 1985, she completed a 45.9 km circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island in New York City in 8 hours 24 minutes 10 seconds.
  • On 9 August 1986, she completed a 45.9 km circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island in New York City in 8 hours 48 minutes 16 seconds.


She wrote an autobiography called Surviving the Sea of Life: The Triumphs and Tragedies of an Australian Olympian. The 256-page book covers McGill's life, an inspiring victory against fate: surviving her mother's tragic death, a scandalous ban from the Tokyo Olympics along with Dawn Fraser, a near-fatal car accident and a devastating divorce. Then there are the triumphs, including claiming the title as the first Australian to swim the English Channel, record-breaking marathon swims and the honour of an MBE. At times funny and always entertaining, she describes in detail her life with her close friends and swimming legends Don Talbot, Dawn Fraser and Ilsa Konrad. She writes about her world travels meeting the rich and famous, sport stars, film stars, politicians and millionaires. The final chapter deals with her latest battle against the skin cancer borne from a life lived in the water, in an age unaware of the dangers of sun exposure.

Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Class of 2020 Honourees

She is a member of the inaugural class of Australian Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame honourees who were inducted on August 2020.

External links