Marilyn Korzekwa Wakes Up To Achieve Her Dreams

Marilyn Korzekwa Wakes Up To Achieve Her Dreams

With another season of channel swimming coming up in the Northern Hemisphere, we are reminded of Dr. Marilyn Korzekwa‘s heroic efforts in her 16 hour 28 minute crossing of the English Channel in 2011.

For her efforts, the 54-year-old Half Century Club member was awarded the Channel Swimming Association‘s Van Audenaerde Cup for Greatest Feat of Endurance during the season.

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. The time taken is clearly one aspect, but 20 hours on a flat calm day would not in our view beat 16 hours in a Force 4.

And 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
,” described Michael Read, President of Channel Swimming Association.

But her road to the French shoreline was a long time coming.

I’ve been swimming since age 2, competitively since age 13. I swam across Lake Ontario in 1983 and also north-to-south against the powerful Niagara River current in 1984. I was quoted in 1984 saying my next big swim would be the English Channel. But then life happened. I got married, had children, but always kept swimming at least twice a week. Last summer, a friend challenged me to swim 26 kilometres in Muskoka. When I finished it, I felt I could have swum further…and realized I could still do another big swim at my age,” wrote Dr. Korzekwa.

The English Channel is part of world history and swimming tradition. My grandmother lived in England and took me to the beach on the channel, so it is also nostalgia and familiar. What really cemented the idea in my mind is pacing Kim Middleton across the channel in 1989. I just “woke up” last September and realized time was running out.

Time may have been running out, but Dr. Korzekwa keeps on moving forward. “Even the pilot wouldn’t oblige [me quitting] by saying that Beaufort Force 6 winds (24-26 knots between 3 and 5 pm) are not an automatic end to the swim if the swimmer is still making forward progress on the GPS.”



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