Welcome to my 2016 swim website. For those of you who don't know me, I swam Lake Ontario the easy way in 1983 and the hard way in 1984. I “came out of retirement" to swim the English Channel (oldest Canadian woman) in 2011. In 2013, I was the oldest Canadian to swim the Catalina strait in California. After swimming around Manhattan Island (oldest Canadian) in 2014, I became the first Canadian to complete the Triple Crown of open water swimming (English Channel, Catalina Strait and Manhattan.) Last year I was the first to swim between three provinces: from Nova Scotia north to New Brunswick and across the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island (34 kms). This year on March 18, I became the first Canadian and the oldest woman ever to swim the icy and turbulent Cook Strait between the south and north islands in New Zealand. (See links below for more detail.)

On August 11, 2016, I hope to become the first Canadian to swim from Plymouth to Provincetown, Massachusetts, across Cape Cod Bay. This “P2P” swim has only been accomplished by 6 people (all American), although the swim has been attempted numerous times since 1915. The swim from Manomet Beach in Plymouth to Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown is about 32 kilometers. The biggest challenge is the current which circulates in a counter-clockwise direction around the relatively shallow bay. The water temperature is expected to be between 16 and 21 degrees Celsius. The swim is officiated by the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association (MOWSA), whose rules are based on the English Channel rules. https://massopenwaterswimming.com/

I am pleased to be able to use this opportunity to raise money for Sashbear, an organization founded by Lynn Courey, whose daughter, Sasha, a swimmer with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), died by suicide in 2011. Sashbear funds education programs for therapists, families and in schools. I have dedicated my psychiatric career to the treatment and research of BPD, which has a suicide rate of 10%. More treatment programs and support for families are desperately needed in Canada. Please support my swim by donating to Sashbear. Thank you. http://sashbear.org/en/

Across Cape Cod Bay:

Across Cape Cod Bay:
Across Cape Cod Bay: Plymouth to Provincetown

Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Article in Hamilton News

The Metroland media article in the Stoney Creek news about my swim and Sashbear was in the same issue that announced that the East Region Mental Health Services Clinic is moving to the new W5th hospital, but with reduced services. The newspaper interviewed a patient who is in the DBT program at ERMHS. She is worried that her DBT program will be cut. How ironic and tragic!!
Like I said, we need more DBT services in Ontario, now more than ever!

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Getting ready

All systems are go!
Our hotels and itinerary are confirmed. I'm starting to pack.
I've been swimming well.
Only 67 kilometers left to swim before we leave.

Monday, 15 February 2016

CBC in PEI radio interview

  I just did a 10 minute radio interview that will air at 6:50 am tomorrow morning PEI time (5:50 Ontario time) on CBC from Charlottetown about my upcoming Cook Strait swim.
  The interview can also be heard by clicking on the link on the Sashbear website

What I think about on a long swim - Part 2

   The first hour of a swim is the worst. That is when I really struggle with the "am I crazy?", "what have I gotten myself into?" and "this is too huge, I'll never do this" thoughts. But then in the second hour those thoughts go away and I start to get in "the zone". A swim goes by the fastest if I can zone out for the whole 45 minutes between the feedings. However, part of my brain is always focusing on my stroke, which needs constant attention. A swim is really long and tedious if something like cold, pain, nausea, waves or jellyfish stop me from zoning out. It's at those times that a pacer swimmer really helps.
  The night time is my favourite part of the swim because there are no distracting stimuli to prevent me from zoning out. I sometimes "wake up and discover I am swimming".
  My crew don't want to discourage me by telling me how far I've come and how long its been. I trust that my crew will give me good news when they find it strategic to share it. I count feedings for a while, but I usually lose count before I get to 10. I get into this state where I really am not thinking much and not caring much about how much further. I'm in it for the duration, no matter how long it takes. I'm usually not allowed to wear a watch so I watch the sun rise, cross the sky and slowly sink back into the water.  If I really want to know how long I've been swimming, I can guess at the time by the sun position.
  The other thing I've learned is that my body goes through "walls" every 3 or 4 hours. Marathon runners don't know how lucky they are to only go through one wall! Everything hurts, the arms feel like lead, and breathing feels tight. The urge to stop is overwhelming. However, I have learned the hard way that it is 10 times harder to start again if you stop, so I compromise and slow down for a bit. Pretty soon, I have swum through the wall, and I feel fairly good again.
  The same is true for headache, nausea, and some joint pains. I have learned to ignore them and hope they go away, which they usually do in an hour or two.
  I like to do a lot of research about my swims. I recognize the geographic features and I know what parts of the swim are critical. I spend a lot of time while I am swimming thinking about my strategy for the upcoming challenges. This way I don't need to stop and ask questions when we get to those challenges.
  The final struggle is with wanting to stop and talk. I can spend the whole 45 minutes thinking about things I want to say at the next feeding!

Friday, 12 February 2016

What I think about on a long swim - part 1

Everyone always asks what I think about on a big swim. It really depends on the swim. That's part of why I like to do different swims, for the variety. On my Lake Ontario swims, I spent a lot of time thinking that I couldn't complain about how much I hurt because I wanted the legendary Cliff Lumsdon, who was in charge of my swims, to be proud of me. On the Lake Simcoe swim, at first, I thought about how frigid (54 deg F) the water was. When it finally warmed up, I thought about how grateful I was to all the members of my crew for volunteering to help me. When the going got tough, I told myself that I couldn't quit, because I had to inspire all the people I know who are facing big challenges in their lives. On the English Channel swim, I spent the first 3 or 4 hours in the dark thinking about how cold I was and how much I wanted to quit but it had been so much trouble and expense and such a huge sacrifice for my crew. I spent the rest of the swim thinking about whether I would finish before I got too cold. The Catalina channel was a beautiful deep blue and relatively warm and I enjoyed most of the crossing. Manhattan was a whole other story. There wasn't time to daydream because I had to stay on my toes to negotiate all the currents, plus I had time deadlines to worry about. On the Three Provinces swim, I thought about my wonderful crew, how great it was to be doing a Canadian swim again, how grey the sky was and when my mind wandered, the jelly fish stings brought me back to reality.

17 more workouts before we leave for New Zealand...

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

My Crew

  I am only taking 2 crew with me to New Zealand. In addition to it being very expensive, it is a huge time commitment. The flights there take 2 days as you are crossing the International Dateline and the crew needs a few days to adjust to the time change of 18 hours. Then the swim window is 5-7 days and the flights back take about a day. So that is a minimum total of 13 days. Most of the crew from my previous swims could not be absent from work for such a long period.

Fortunately, my good friend and fellow marathon swimmer Colleen Shields was able to get the time off work. Between Colleen and my husband I don't need more crew. Colleen is able to do every job on the swim: swimming beside me (pacing), coaching my stroke, monitoring my feedings, measuring my core temperature with the CorTemp® monitor, minding the Spot Tracker, and cheer leading. She is also an official (Swim Master) and board member with Solo Swims of Ontario. She can also do a number of other jobs that are going to be Philip Rush's responsibility on this swim, such as driving the Zodiac, navigating, weather forecasting and being in charge of the safety of the swim . But rest assured that my husband and Colleen will be watching me with their experienced eyes and will make sure Philip doesn't miss anything important. My husband, of course, has been on all my swims and can do every job except swim fast.

I have been on 5 of Colleen's swims, including her successful 1990 crossing of Lake Ontario. Colleen is an amazing marathon swimmer. It has been my honour to do every job on her swims for her. Colleen has crossed Lake Ontario 3 times and has the record for oldest swimmer. She is also the only person to have swum from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island. Her bio is on the Solo Swims of Ontario website. www.soloswims.com

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Masters Swimming

The best way for older swimmers like myself to stay in shape during the winter is to join a Masters Swimming team. Swimmers 18 years and older train in regular workouts with a coach.

Masters Swimming Canada's (MSC) mission statement is "to lead, develop, and support adult swimming in Canada."
"Masters Swimming encourages participation regardless of level of ability, supports setting and achieving goals, promotes health and wellness through swimming,  fosters friendships and is fun."

The MSC website http://mymsc.ca/ lists over 300 clubs across Canada. Most clubs hold a swim meet and then there are provincial, national and world competitions, In fact the 2014 worlds were held in Montreal.

For me, the best part of Masters swimming is trying to keep up with my swimming buddies. I've been competing against Debbie for 45 years. She paced me across the Catalina strait, where she earned the name "shark sister". Yesterday we swam with our new swim buddy, Mary, who is faster than both of us and has helped me get faster. Masters helps with the boredom of doing endless laps in the pool. However, to do the mileage that I need to do for a marathon swim, I have to do long workouts on my own on the days between Masters workouts.

 Masters Swimming Ontario has kindly posted my flyer on their website. http://www.mastersswimmingontario.ca/marilyn-korzekwa-to-swim-the-cook-strait-new-zealand/

22 more workouts in the pool before we leave for New Zealand...

Friday, 5 February 2016

Philip Rush

  Philip Rush is the man who organizes and runs the swims across the Cook Strait. He is a swimming legend. He still holds the record (from 1987) for the fastest triple crossing of the English Channel. He was the first and is still the fastest to do a double crossing of the Cook Strait. The swims and the cabin cruiser boat, the Tangeroa, are based in Wellington, New Zealand. Other swimmers tell me that the Tangeroa captain and navigator are amazing. Philip and his fellow firefighter friend will be in the large inflatable beside me.
  Philip has all the equipment and personnel organized, is an expert on the tides and weather, and says that all the swimmer has to do is show up. And he has selflessly organized and officiated 300 swims over about 30 years.
  Since he only books 8 to 10 swimmers a year, I have had to wait since 2013 for my chance.
  Yesterday he wrote to me that all I have to bring is "your swimming stuff like your food, togs (swimming outfit), goggles and caps". With regards to hypothermia and sharks, he says, "be assured we only have your best interests at heart."
  He also writes, "we will give you our best shot to become the most mature female and the first Canadian."

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Back in the pool

I'm back in the pool and hating it. Sometimes I think this is the hardest part about doing these swims - the tedium in the pool.
133 km left to do in the pool before I leave for New Zealand.
Twenty eight more workouts.