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Digital Subscriptions > Outdoor Swimmer > May 2018 > BELLE DE JOUR


In 1954, a different kind of swimsuit competition highlighted the talents of women in Atlantic City.


Marilyn Bell The then-unknown 16-year-old Canadian was just getting started in marathon swimming

If your only exposure to the “Jersey shore” has come via that appalling reality television show by the same name, then you’ve sadly missed out on one of America’s real gems. The Atlantic coast of the small but mighty state of New Jersey in the eastern United States is home to a wealth of delights – primary among them the series of 11 barrier islands that run the length of the state and buffer the mainland from the brunt of the ocean’s strength.

One of these islands, Absecon – a word that means “little water” in the Unami language spoken by the Lenape people who originally inhabited the coastal region – is home to one of the most storied, gaudy, kitschy, and downright wonderful examples of Americana anywhere in the country: Atlantic City.

Once affectionately dubbed the vacation capital of the nation, Atlantic City was built right on the sand at the northern end of Absecon Island. Officially founded in 1854, the city started out as a sort of health resort for well-to-do Philadelphians. As the city grew, more tourists flocked, and amusements multiplied, ranging from casinos and music shows to vaudeville performances, fortune tellers and carnival rides. By the 1920s, the world-famous Atlantic City boardwalk was the place to see and be seen all summer long.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

It's time to get back in the water! With spring finally here read our guide on how to safely enjoy swimming outdoors – plus our top tips on sea swimming. Our Gear section this issue features our choice of training aids to help you tune up your technique so you can make the most of this month's training sessions from coach Fiona Ford on open water skills. We celebrate open water icon Marilyn Bell and the 1954 marathon swim that turned her into a global swimming star. But outdoor swimming isn’t all about massive distances – we also hear about a swim revival in the Czech Republic in memory of a Holocaust survivor and meet the swimmers of Henley Open Water Swimming Club. Plus: full event listings to plan your summer swims, nutrition, injury prevention, event reviews, news, interviews and more of your stunning photography and swim stories.