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OPEN WATER SWIMMING

Open water swimming is a growing sport in British Columbia (BC) with swimmers tackling distances from 800m to over 90km in both organized events and as solo events.

Annabelle "Ann" (Mundigel) Meraw (b 23 Feb 1917, Powell River) is one of our province’s most prolific open water swimmers completing the first ever swim from Vancouver (English Bay) to Bowen Island (22 km) in seven hours 14 minutes (1938). She also set a new world endurance record of 25 hrs 1 min and a world speed record of 51.2 km in 16 hrs 14 mins in Okanagan Lake. Her longest swim, and one of the longest recorded swims by a British Columbian, was 88 km in 32 hrs 12 mins in that same lake. Because of WWII she had to abandon plans to swim the English Channel. She retired in 1982 and was inducted into the BC Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.

Our organized open water swim events capture swims by a number of BC’s masters however there is a group of swimmers who have been swimming longer events as soloists who’s efforts have gone unrecorded. MSABC is pleased to sanction and ratify swims for those who are swimming in bodies of water in British Columbia for distances over 10km.

We are also documenting and maintaining records of marathon swims by British Columbian’s, and in our BC waters. Below is a list of the swims we are aware of. If you would like your swim officially observed or ratified or know of someone who should be added to the list below please contact us.

Note:

  • unassisted = swimsuit, cap and goggles only
  • assisted = wetsuit or other assistive device

UNASSISTED SWIMS

British Columbia Unassisted Lake & River Swims

Year Name M/F From Location Distance Time
1956 Ann (Mundigel) Meraw F BC Okanagan Lake 67km 25:01:00
1958 Ann (Mundigel) Meraw F BC Okanagan Lake 88km 32:12:00
1959 Ann (Mundigel) Meraw F BC Okanagan Lake 51km 16:14:00
1966 Mike Powley M BC Kalamalka Lake 18km
2002 Laura Harris F BC Cowichan Lake 34km 9:30:00
2002 Lee Ann Wilkinson-Sirup F BC Cowichan Lake 34km 9:40:00
2013 Alex Cape F BC Cowichan Lake 34km
2013 Susan Simmons F BC Cowichan Lake 34km
2014 Alex Cape F BC Cowichan Lake 70km 32:00:00
2014 Susan Simmons F BC Cowichan Lake 70km 32:00:00
2015 Alex Cape F BC Cowichan Lake 91km 56:00:00
2015 Susan Simmons F BC Cowichan Lake 44km 20:00:00
2016 Susan Simmons F BC Cowichan Lake 34km 16:00:00
2018 Spirit Orcas (Cheyenne Furlong-Goos, Dixon McGowan, Drew Sabourin, Maria Sharock, Ben Vanlierop, and Aly White) M BC Cowichan Lake 34km 14:00:00

Juan de Fuca Strait 30 km unassisted
distance based on straight line crossing, swimmers may have swum more

Year Name From M/F Direction Time
1955 Bert Thomas Washington M US-Can 11:22
1956 Cliff Lumsdon Ontario M BC-WA 11:35.
1956 Amy HIland California F WA-BC 10:51.
1956 Ben Laughren BC M WA-BC 10:17
1956 Marilyn Bell ON F WA-BC 10:38
1989 Vicki Keith
butterfly
ON F WA-BC 14:01
2017 Susan Simmons (swim log) BC F WA-BC 10:06
NOTE: For other swims across Juan de Fuca Strait please visit our American counterpart, the North West Openwater Swim Association (NOWSA).

Strait Of Georgia 29km Unassisted

Year Name M/F From Time
1967 Ernst Yacub M BC 11:13:00
1967 Mike Powley M BC 9:23:00
1972 Fran Caldwell F BC
1978 John McDermott M BC
1998 Shane Collins M BC 9:55:00
2010 Rod Craig M BC 9:50:00
2010 James Monk M BC 9:35:00
2010 Relay Team (Jim Close, Bill Burton, Mike Stamhuis Claire Both) M/F BC 9:45
2012 Okanagan Lake Monsters Relay Team
(Mike Stamhuis, Leora Dahl, Paul Duffield,
Tracey Sutton, Phred Martin, Denise Cesselli)
M/F BC
2014 Rachel Schoeler F BC 13:38
2015 Jessi Harewicz F BC 11:20

Bowen Island 30 km unassisted

Year Name From M/F Time
1995 Shane Collins BC M unknown
1997 Debbie Collins BC F unknown
2008 Brent Hobbs BC M 9:21
2010 Mike Humphreys BC M 11:20
2017 Emily Epp BC F 10:45

Other Unassisted British Columbia Ocean Swims
continuous swims over 10 km.

Year Name From M/F Location Distance Time
2016 Susan Simmons BC F Ocean Falls-Bella Bella staged 25km / 25km
2016 Dale Robinson BC M Ocean Falls-Bella Bella staged 15km / 11km
2017 Susan Simmons BC F Lama Pass - Inside Passage 10km / 10km

BC English Channel Swimmers 34km unassisted
distance based on straight line crossing, swimmers may have swum more

Year Name M/F Time
1951 Winnie Leuszler Roach F 13:25
1995 Shane Collins M 13:59:00
2008 Brent Hobbs M 10:44
2010 Rod Craig M 12:21
2013 Okanagan Lake Monsters Relay Team (Mike Stamhuis, Leora Dahl, Tracey Sutton, Phred Martin, Denise Cesselli) M/F 13:41
2016 Scott Chris & Rachel Schoeler M/F
2017 Jessi Harewicz F
2017 Emily Epp F 11:57
2017 Jessi Harewicz F 17:34

BC Swimmers in Other International Waters unassisted
distance based on straight line crossing, swimmers may have swum more

Year Name M/F Locations Distance Time
2018 Jessi Harewicz F Mercer Island 20 km 8:21.42
2018 Jessi Harewicz F Catalina Channel 32 km 15:30.03

ASSISTED SWIMS

Assisted British Columbia Ocean and Lake Swims
continuous swims over 10 km.

Year Name From M/F Location Distance Time Assistance
1992 Fin Donnelly BC M Strait of Georgia 29km - wetsuit
1993 Fin Donnelly BC M Strait of Georgia 29km - wetsuit
1993 Fin Donnelly BC M Fraser River staged - - wetsuit
1994 Fin Donnelly BC M Strait of Georgia 29km - wetsuit
1994 Fin Donnelly BC M 9:45:00 30km 10:15 wetsuit
1995 Fin Donnelly BC M Fraser River staged - - wetsuit
1995 Fin Donnelly BC M Strait of Georgia 29km - wetsuit
1996 Fin Donnelly BC M Strait of Georgia 29km - wetsuit
2011 Georgia Girls (Susan Simmons, Rhonda Renning Talbot, Karen Tannas, Jennifer Leach-Trask) BC F Strait of Georgia 29km 9:35:00 wetsuit
2011 Relay Team (Jim Close, Ken Simpson, Deborah Robertson, Kayleigh Robertson, Will Rogers) BC M/F Strait of Georgia 29km 9:45:00 wetsuit
2016 Jill Yoneda BC F Ocean Falls-Bella Bella 25km wetsuit, fins
2017 Jill Yoneda BC F Strait of Juan de Fuca WA-BC 30km 10:37 wetsuit, fins

Interested in open water swimming? Here’s a few links to help get you started:

Marathon swims are generally defined as non-stop swims in open bodies of water of at least 10 km (6.2 miles) in distance. This distance is accepted by the International Olympic Committee, FINA, many national swimming federations and the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, although some define a marathon swimming distance as 15 miles, 25 km or 20 miles. It can also refer to ultra marathon swims of distances greater than 10 kilometers.


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