*First Canadian Triple Crown
*First Canadian Triple Crown of California
*Over 35 Years of Major Marathon Swims
Apart from her Lake Ontario conquests Dr. Marilyn Korzekwa was the first Canadian to complete the Triple Crown of Marathon Swimming (The English Channel, The Manhattan Island swim, and the Catalina Channel) and the first Canadian to complete the California Triple Crown (Catalina and Santa Barbara Channels and Lake Tahoe).
All of Marilyn's swims are documented in the long swims database.
Marilyn's SSO Recorded Swims
Marilyn's International & East Coast Swims
Santa Barbara Channel (from Santa Cruz Island; 2018)
Lake Ontario, 1983 & 1984
Marilyn Korzekwa, MD was the first person to have completed Lake Ontario swims from both south-to-north and north-to-south on September 1-2, 1983 (21:29) and August 17-18, 1984 (21:00) respectively. Her 1984 north-south swim was the first completed by a Canadian, and had only been preceded by USA swimmer Diana Nyad in 1974.
The start of the 1983 swim is pictured, together with the approach to Leslie Street Spit (Toronto) with the legendary Cliff Lumsdon driving the inflatable. There was a strong northerly head wind that slowed Marilyn down and hurt her shoulders.
The start and finish of the 1984 swim are depicted below. On the left and about to exit the inflatable to start at Leslie Street Spit, Marilyn is seen well-greased with (L-R) friend, Cliff Lumsdon, and Brian Mercer (coach). She was caught in the current exiting from the Port Dalhousie Harbour and had to sprint to get through it to the beach. In the next photo, Marilyn is seen exiting the water at Lakeside Beach in Port Dalhousie.
Lake Simcoe & The English Channel, 2011
Marilyn was stimulated to get back into serious training again in 2010, and completed a cold (13-20 degree C) and arduous, 35 km swim in 18:45 on 26-27 June 2011 on Lake Simcoe (Barrie to Orillia).
The Lake Simcoe swim was completed as a "warm up" for her successful crossing of the English Channel (E-F) in 16:40 on 21 Aug 2011 when she became the oldest Canadian woman to cross the Channel. The winds were fierce, topping out at 35 knots, leading to her receipt of the 2011 CSA Van Audenaerde award for the Greatest Feat of Endurance. President of CSA, Mike Read, said about Marilyn's award, "The greatest feat of endurance encompasses everything, age, length of swim, weather conditions... the person who battled on against all odds in spite of what was thrown at them... You had 12 hours in F4 and occasionally F5 and you had 13 hours of a head wind. In our view you had the hardest swim of the year." The swim is described in further detail in her Channel Blog.
Key West, Florida, 2012
16 June 2012. Florida Community Center swim around Key West. 20.1 km, 8 hours 15 minutes. Water 30.5-31 degrees C ((87-88 deg.F). Oldest woman ever.
Catalina Channel, 2013
At age 56, and thirty years after her first crossing of Lake Ontario, Marilyn set-out to take-on the 32 km crossing of the Catalina Channel. She was stimulated by the knowledge that on 15th January 1927, Canadian George Young had become the first person to cross the Catalina Channel and that the Queen of the Catalina Channel, Florence Chadwick, had met her match in Lake Ontario and Marilyn Bell. Marilyn departed from Catalina island at 10:00 pm on 29 August 2013 and after fighting a cross current for several hours and cold upwelled waters at the end, she touched mainland California at Point Vincente (Pelican Cove), 14 hours and 24 minutes 24 seconds later. She became the oldest Canadian and the fastest Canadian woman to have crossed the San Pedro Strait (Catalina Channel).
Marilyn's Catalina swim is described in further detail in her Catalina Blog.
Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, 2014
On 12th July 2014, Marilyn completed her quest for the Triple Crown with her 10:02:21 and 45.9 km (28.5 mile) circumnavigation of Manhattan Island.
Marilyn became the Oldest Canadian to have completed this race.
The challenges and elation involved with Marilyn's Manhattan Island swim are best described in her own words in her Manhattan Blog.
Canadian 3-Province Swim, 2015
Marilyn completed the first ever Canadian 3-Province swim on 25-26 July 2015 at age 58. The swim started at 7:22 pm at Aggermore Point (Nova Scotia), proceeded to Indian Point (New Brunswick), and finished at Borden (Prince Edward Island). The swim took a total of 16 hours 41 minutes and 8 seconds, and covered a distance of 35.3 km. Water temperature was 16.4-18 degrees C. The waves coming into Indian Point were close to a meter and chaotic, coming at her from multiple directions. And then, as she crossed the Northumberland Strait, the sustained winds over 10 knots caused the waves to get progressively higher to over a meter. The lion's mane and moon jelly fish stung Marilyn repeatedly, “I got 22 stings on my face and 3 or 4 dozen on each extremity. Fortunately they stopped hurting after 10-15 minutes.”
The swim was sanctioned by WOWSA and the Marathon Swimmers Federation and was monitored throughout by their official Observer Jen Alexander. (Marilyn's blogspot for the 3 provinces swim).
Cook Strait, 2016
Marilyn conquered the Cook Strait on 18 March 2016 with her 26 km crossing in a time of 11:34:08 and became the first Canadian and oldest woman to complete this feat.
She started her swim from the South Island (left side of map) at 9:28 am in 15-16 degrees C water. She was held back by the current and some waves at the beginning and then made good progress until the sun was setting (at 7:34 pm) and it got choppy again, forcing her to breathe only on the right. When there was 2.5 km left, Philip Rush, the official, told her to sprint and not stop for a feeding due to a strong tidal current. "They kept screaming at me for an hour. I had to dig deep and deeper and deeper still. I knew the tide was going to push me out to sea if I couldn't punch through it. I could see the land rushing past." With only a half kilometer of land left, she finally made it to the North Island. (See Marilyn's 2016 swims blog.)
Cape Cod Bay, 2016
Marilyn completed the 32 km crossing of Cape Cod Bay (Plymouth to Provincetown, MA) on 11 August 2016 a time of 13 hours 6 minutes, with water temperatures of 18-23 degrees C and so became the first Canadian, oldest woman and 9th person to complete the swim.
With her arms greased with black-and-white stripes, she was mimicking a snake, which is supposed to help keep sharks at bay. Sharks and seals had been spotted in the bay in the week before. About 800m from shore, as it got shallow, the waves became massive, building on top of each other making 5 to 8 foot mountains.
Marilyn was excited that Marilyn Bell DiLascio - a long-time friend and motivator of so many marathon swimmers- was there to meet her on the beach when Marilyn swam into shore from the boat. Marilyn DiLascio said, "she looks like a creature from the black lagoon". (See Marilyn's 2016 swims blog.)
Lake Tahoe, 2017
Monitored by the Lake Tahoe Marathon Swimming Federation, the swim started from Camp Richardson (California) at 8:30 pm on Sunday 20 August 2017.
The water was stable throughout at 20-degrees C. The altitude at 1,897-metres was expected tp be the major challenge. Surprisingly shortness of breath did not trouble Marilyn but nausea did. A solar eclipse added excitement to the swim.
Marilyn arrived at Hyatt Beach (Nevada) just after 1:30 pm on Monday 21 August and so completed the 34.2 km course in 17 hours 2 minutes to become the first Canadian and Oldest Woman to complete this swim. (See swim with Marilyn blog.)
Lake Superior, 2018
Marilyn had wanted to swim Lake Superior for 30 years and finally got the chance on 19 August 2018. She pioneered this route from Whitefish Point, Michigan to Pancake Bay, Ontario that goes within 15 km of the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. She started this 28.7 km swim standing on the spit of land, surrounded by water on 3 sides in the pitch black at 3 a.m. with the air and water 16 degrees C. Other than some high broadside waves for 2 hours, the winds and currents were ideal. Marilyn said, "Beautiful clean blue water. Cliffs and hills were the view we were swimming towards since sunrise. Lake Superior is the definition of the beauty of Canada for me"... I could see the sand about 50 feet down, and saw it slowly rise over about a kilometre. What a glorious feeling to finish a swim on a beach in the daylight! The time was 12:09:14. (See swim with Marilyn blog.)
Santa Barbara Channel, 2018
Marilyn heard about the California Triple Crown of marathon swimming (Catalina channel, Lake Tahoe and the Santa Barbara Channel) and thought it would be a nice way to finish off her swimming career. Since a Canadian had already swum the 20 km from Anacapa Island, Marilyn decided to do the 30.6 km crossing of the Santa Barbara Channel from Santa Cruz Island to Ventura County, California. On 18 July 2018, Marilyn set off from Santa Cruz Island towards the mainland of California in perfect conditions. Unfortunately, a very large shark showed a great deal of interest in her and wouldn't go away so the swim was ended after 8 hours and 15.6 km of swimming. Marilyn tried again 4 days later from Anacapa island but the winds and waves were too high and they sailed back to port. Marilyn had to come back 12 September, 2018 to accomplish the Santa Cruz swim, in less than ideal wind and wave conditions, but no sharks. She painted the stripes on her arms and legs again as well as the kayak for extra shark protection. Even better, a huge pod of dolphins swam with her for about 10 minutes. Time was 18:45:00.
This swim had a few notable distinctions:
- First Canadian to swim Santa Barbara channel from Santa Cruz Island
- Oldest woman to swim SB Channel from SC Island.
- First Canadian to complete California Triple Crown.
- Oldest to complete California Triple Crown
(See swim with Marilyn blog.)
Lake Nipissing, 2022
Marilyn was foiled by a freak gale (65 kph winds and 3 m waves) about 3 kilometers from the shores of North Bay in 2020. "It's as challenging as a Great Lake", she said afterwards.
On July 16, 2022, Marilyn returned and swam across Lake Nipissing from Campbell's Beach in the south west to Golden Mile Beach, North Bay in the north east, a distance of 27.6 km. This was the first officially documented swim across Lake Nipissing. She finished at Golden Mile Beach instead of the planned Shabogesic Beach because the wind built to over 15 km/hr. and the waves to 1.5 m and pushed her off course in the last few kilometers.
(See swim with Marilyn blog.)
Lake Muskoka, 2013
At age 56 years and 75 days, Marilyn completed the first recorded distance-swim of Lake Muskoka with a time of 11 hours 44 minutes and twenty seconds for a course of 27.33 km. The swim started to the west of the Sunset Grill (916 Bay Street, Gravenhurst) and headed north to finish at the boat ramp at Hannah Park (The foot of Bailey Street), Port Carling.
Lake Joseph, 2014
At age 57 years and 75 days, Marilyn completed the first recorded distance-swim of Lake Joseph with a time of 9 hours 30 minutes on a course of 21.65 km. The swim started at Centennial Beach, 276 Clear Lake Road, Port Cockburn and headed south to finish at a beach east of the bridge at Port Sandfield.
Lake of Bays, 2016
25 June 2016. Lake of Bays, Ontario. Baysville Government dock to Dwight beach. 22.45 km, 9 hours 49 minutes. Water 19-22 degrees C.
Lake Rosseau, 2019
At age 62, Marilyn swam the 18.2 km length of Lake Rosseau on 21 June 2019.
She completed this SSO inaugural course from Rosseau waterfront park to Port Sandfield Bridge in 7:34:34. The swim started at 7:45 am with a water temperature of 15.5 degrees C which gradually rose to 19 C during the swim. The conditions were reported as cool and cloudy for most of the swim with a following breeze.
Since 1985, Marilyn has acted as an SSO Swim Master on more than 30 SSO-monitored swims and helped many others fulfil their marathon-swimming dreams.
From 1988, she has contributed much time to the organization and planning of SSO activities - serving on the Board of Directors, acting as the Medical Officer, Vice President, Secretary, and Chair of Risk Management. In 2017, Marilyn took on the role of President of SSO.