McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Prof becomes oldest female swimmer to cross Cook Strait

Published: March 21, 2016
Marilyn Korzekwa
Marilyn Korzekwa, assisant professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences

A McMaster psychiatry professor has become the oldest female swimmer to cross New Zealand's Cook Strait, considered one of the most dangerous and unpredictable waters in the world.

Marilyn Korzekwa, assistant professor in the Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences Department, crossed the strait, which lies between the north and south islands of New Zealand. She reached the southern coast in pitch darkness Friday night, completing the 11 and a half hour swim.

"The toughest part was the last hour in the dark," Korzekwa told New Zealand's Dominion Post. "I had to sprint for all I was worth and then dig deeper for more sprint to punch through the tide at the end."

At 58 years old, Korzekwa is now the oldest woman to have accomplished the feat, beating out the previous record holder who was 55.

This is not Korzekwa's first dive into long distance swimming — she's one of Canada's greatest long-distance swimmers. The Cook Strait is added to a long list of her defeated opponents, which includes the English Channel, the Straits of Catalina, and around the island of Manhattan. In 2014, she became the first Canadian to complete the Triple Crown of open water swimming.

The Cook Strait was an appealing challenge to Korzekwa because of its difficulty. The swim is 24 km, but the water's tides pull swimmers as they cross. It took Korzekwa about 12 km of swimming to only move one km.

Korzekwa says she'll be winding down her marathon swimming career in the next few years, due to aches and pains that aren't healing because of the required training.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Level Double-A conformance, W3C WAI Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0