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Marathon swim considered a win despite being cut short

Marilyn Korzekwa admits that swimming across Lake Nipissing was a challenge. 

“It’s one hell of a lake; it threw everything it could at me,” Korzekwa said the day after she had to cut her 28 km marathon swim two kilometers short due to winds and waves on the lake. 

Korzekwa was attempting to swim across Lake Nipissing in order to raise money for the Nipissing Trackers. The marathon swimmer says that it’s the first time a swim of hers has been cut short since her first attempt at Lake Ontario in the 1980s. 

Although the swim was not officially completed, Anne Taylor, a volunteer with the Nipissing Trackers and an organizer with the swim, thinks that Korzekwa accomplished her overall goal. 

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“As far as the swim, I give it to her. I think she’s done it,” Taylor said, adding that donations to the Trackers have been steadily coming in all week. 

The Lake Nipissing swim was originally slated for June or July, but the pandemic pushed it until the first week of September. 

“September I think is kind of cold. I was shivering the entire swim,” Korzekwa recalled from Wednesday’s swim.

Korzekwa has been involved in the North Bay community since the winter. After spending some time with the Nipissing Trackers program, she said she figured “why not” try to raise money for them. 

Thus began months of preparation and organization, with a plethora of moving parts within the community. Korzekwa says that North Bay showed support she’s never seen before. 

“There were like 20 people waiting for me. I never get 20 people waiting for me at the end of the swim. That was awesome, all the support,” she commended.

Korzekwa says that her preparation for the swim involves a mixture of in-pool and dryland training during the months, getting into the open water usually on the May long weekend when she’s able to.

Korzekwa has performed numerous marathon swims around the world for various charitable and personal reasons. She says she was named after famous Canadian marathon swimmer, Marilyn Bell – the first person to ever swim across Lake Ontario. Korzekwa jokes that she was destined to be a marathon swimmer given her name’s origin. 

During the Lake Nipissing swim, two dinghies and a kayak capsized in the lake because of strong winds and high waves. A release from organizers said that the swim turned into a rescue mission. Nobody was hurt in the incident. 

Korzekwa says that she is contemplating retirement after the Lake Nipissing swim, saying that the pandemic will be a determining factor on if and when she would be able to do another. 

Regardless of if she continues marathon swims, Taylor says that Korzekwa’s impact is cherished.

“It’s so gratifying to have someone come up to North Bay and think of a small group of people that are volunteers trying to do something better for our community,” Taylor said. 

Korzekwa says that she still plans on being involved with charitable efforts in her home of Hamilton regardless of if she retires.

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