Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario is the easternmost of the North American Great Lakes, with shores in Ontario, Canada, and New York, USA. Lake Ontario has a long and storied history of marathon swimming, primarily in the waters off Toronto. The Canadian National Exhibition sponsored professional races in Toronto from 1927-1938 and 1947-1963. In 1954, 16-year old Marilyn Bell completed the first cross-lake swim, from Fort Niagara (Youngstown, New York) to Toronto's western waterfront near Budapest Park (51 km / 32 miles). A crowd estimated at 250,000 greeted her at the finish.

Course Records


South to North

Over the decades since Marilyn Bell's pioneering effort, swimmers have used various start and finish locations for cross-lake swims - resulting in a confusing assortment of routes and distances. In general, the standard historical route across Lake Ontario is from either side of the Niagara River mouth (Youngstown, New York or Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario) to the western waterfront of Toronto (49-51 km, depending on specific locations).

In recent years, Solo Swims of Ontario has defined a more specific standard route of Queen's Royal Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake to the ladder inside the breakwater at Marilyn Bell Park in Toronto (50.5 km).

Standard Historical Route - Niagara River mouth to Toronto western waterfront (49-51 km)

Date Name Gender Age Nation Route Km Time
1954 Sep 9 Marilyn Bell F 16 Fort Niagara to Boulevard Club 51.5 20:55:00
1956 Jul 23 John Jaremey M 36 Niagara River mouth to Toronto 47 21:13:00
1956 Aug 13 Brenda Fisher F 28 Niagara River mouth to Toronto 47 18:51:00
1957 Aug 23 Bill Sadlo M 57 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (west waterfront) 49 25:01:00
1957 Aug 26 Jim Woods M 41 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (west waterfront) 49 18:35:00
1961 Sep 2 Jim Woods M 45-46 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (west waterfront) 49 17:07:00
1974 Aug 17 Cindy Nicholas F 16 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (west waterfront) 49 15:10:00
1975 Aug 16 Debbie Roach F 17 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (west waterfront) 49 18:30:00
1976 Aug 23 Angela Kondrak F 17 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (west waterfront) 49 23:48:00
1976 Aug 27 Kim Lumsdon F 19-20 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (west waterfront) 49 21:27:00
1979 Sep 1 Loreen Passfield F 21 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (west waterfront) 49 15:43:00
1981 Sep 5 Jocelyn Muir F 15 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (west waterfront) 49 15:55:00
1984 Aug 4 Cam Kamula 29 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (west waterfront) 49 20:07:00
1985 Aug 17 Kim Middleton F 26-27 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 18:34:00
1989 Aug 19 Rick Wood M 31 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 21:33:00
1989 Sep 4 Vicki Keith F 28 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (west waterfront) 49 31:00:00
1990 Jul 29 Paolo Pinto M 52 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 23:57:00
1992 Aug 8 John Scott M 31-32 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 14:50:00
1993 Aug 13 Shelagh Freedman M 17 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 26:03:00
1994 Aug 13 John Scott M 33-34 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 14:42:00
1996 Aug 12 Ingrid Martin F 38 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 23:25:00
1996 Aug 17 Paula Stephanson F 17-18 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 22:30:00
2003 Aug 14 Gregg Taylor M 19 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 19:23:00
2005 Aug 10 Melissa Brannagan F 23 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 16:11:00
2006 Aug 6 Kim Lumsdon F 49 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 26:38:00
2006 Aug 9 Samantha Whiteside F 16 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 15:11:11
2006 Aug 13 Colleen Shields F 54 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 16:30:17
2007 Aug 11 Stephanie Hermans F 21 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 18:05:37
2008 Aug 16 Shaun Chisholm 40 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 19:23:00
2009 Aug 1 Jade Scognamillo 15 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 19:59:49
2010 Aug 11 Miguel Vadillo Sanchez M 40 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 18:03:49
2011 Aug 6 Rebekah Boscariol F 17 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 15:33:15
2011 Aug 9 Christine Arsenault F 35 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 22:22:25
2012 Aug 19 Annaleise Carr-Haley F 14 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 26:40:54
2013 Aug 18 Ashleigh Beacham 15 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 18:22:35
2014 Aug 4 Trinity Arsenault F 14-15 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 23:19:57
2014 Aug 9 Colleen Shields F 62 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 21:33:49
2015 Aug 22 Michael McIsaac M 32 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 22:23:06
2016 Aug 2 Loren King M 48 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 18:35:08
2017 Aug 30 Pat Gallant-Charette F 66 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 24:28:19
2017 Sep 11 Elizabeth Fry F 58 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 15:46:16
2018 Sep 2 Victor Lal M 21 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (west waterfront) 49 21:05:00
2021 Aug 4 Jillian Best F 34 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 18:36:00
2021 Aug 6 Juan Gabriel Acosta M 38 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 18:58:25
2022 Aug 6 Greg Maitinsky M 46 Queen's Royal Park to Marilyn Bell Park 50.5 16:16:26
Canadian National Exhibition 1978 Race

On August 16, 1978, the CNE sponsored a professional cross-lake race, starting in Niagara-on-the-Lake and finishing at Ontario Place - which at the time was the most common finish location of cross-lake swims (including Cindy Nicholas/1974, Debbie Roach/1975, Angela Kondrak/1976, and Kim Lumsdon/1976. Ontario Place is a group of artificial islands extending ~400m off Toronto's western waterfront, and ~500m east of the modern finish location at Marilyn Bell Park. This route is 49-50 km, depending on the precise start location in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which is unknown for the 1978 race.

The winner of the race, John Kinsella, still holds the record for the fastest swim along the standard historical route (Niagara River mouth to Toronto western waterfront).

Date Name Gender Age Nation Route Km Time
1978 Aug 16 John Kinsella M 25 Niagara-on-the-Lake to Ontario Place 51 13:49:00
1978 Aug 16 Claudio Plit M 23 Niagara-on-the-Lake to Ontario Place 51 15:01:00
1978 Aug 16 Raul Villagomez M 27 Niagara-on-the-Lake to Ontario Place 51 15:09:00
1978 Aug 16 Magdy Mandour M 23 Niagara-on-the-Lake to Ontario Place 51 15:19:00
1978 Aug 16 Bill Heiss M 26 Niagara-on-the-Lake to Ontario Place 51 15:57:00

Niagara River mouth to Leslie Street Spit

A few cross-lake swimmers finished their swims on Leslie Street Spit, an artificial headland extending 5 km into Lake Ontario from Toronto harbour, which did not exist at the time of the earliest Lake Ontario crossings. These swims are approximately 5 km shorter than the standard route (44-45 km).

Date Name Gender Age Nation Route Km Time
1983 Sep 2 Marilyn Korzekwa F 26 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 21:29:00
1988 Aug 30 Vicki Keith F 27 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 23:33:00
1989 Aug 24 Bob Weir M 46 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 22:08:00
1990 Aug 11 Colleen Shields F 38 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 17:56:00
1991 Aug 14 Patty Thompson F 45 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 19:18:00
1993 Jul 23 Carlos Costa M 20 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 32:43:00
1994 Aug 28 Rick Goodwin M 36 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 27:06:00
1997 Aug 9 Nicole Mallette F 31 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 16:10:00
1998 Aug 15 Dan Foster M 33 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 19:12:00
2004 Aug 8 Peter Gibbs M 56 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 18:40:00
2008 Jul 30 Jay Serdula M 35 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 41:01:00
2010 Aug 11 Susanne Robinson F 39-40 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 24:28:00
2022 Aug 3 Mark Sheridan M 48-49 Niagara River mouth to Toronto (Leslie St Spit) 44.2 18:59:52

North to South

North-to-south swims across Lake Ontario must take a somewhat different line, to avoid the outflow of the Niagara River near the finish. So, swimmers land further east along the Niagara Peninsula - for example, Port Dalhousie. Swims starting from Toronto's natural shore and finishing no further west than Jordan Harbour, are 48-50 km.

Date Name Gender Age Nation Route Km Time
1974 Aug 31 Diana Nyad F 25 Toronto (west waterfront) to Port Dalhousie 49 18:15:00

North to South (shorter routes)

Some swimmers have taken shorter north-to-south routes - for example, starting at Leslie Street Spit and/or finishing east of Jordan Harbour (45-46 km).

Date Name Gender Age Nation Route Km Time
1984 Aug 18 Marilyn Korzekwa F 27 Toronto (Leslie St Spit) to Port Dalhousie 45.8 21:00:00
1986 Aug 15 Vicki Keith F 25 Toronto (Leslie St Spit) to Port Dalhousie 45.8 26:59:00
1993 Sep 6 Kim Middleton F 34-35 Toronto to Niagara Peninsula 46 29:00:00
1994 Jul 31 Kim Middleton F 35 Toronto to Niagara Peninsula 46 26:14:00

Western Lake Ontario (Oakville)

Date Name Gender Age Nation Route Km Time
2011 Aug 12 Melanie Price F 38-39 Port Dalhousie to Oakville 41 18:09:24
2012 Jul 29 Madhu Nagaraja M 40-41 Port Dalhousie to Oakville 41 24:26:03
2012 Aug 14 Rob Kent M 48 Port Dalhousie to Oakville 41 20:52:50

Eastern Lake Ontario (Kingston)

Date Name Gender Age Nation Route Km Time
2001 Aug 25 John Munro M 50-51 Point Peninsula NY to MacDonald Park, Kingston ON 35 18:48:00
2001 Aug 25 Vicki Keith F 40 Point Peninsula NY to MacDonald Park, Kingston ON 35 18:48:00
2003 Aug 13 John Munro M 52-53 Sackets Harbor NY to Kingston ON 55 35:15:00
2006 Jul 19 Jenna Lambert F 15 Baird Pt NY to Lake Ontario Park, Kingston ON 33 32:18:00
2007 Aug 28 Natalie Lambert F 14 Sackets Harbor NY to Kingston ON 55 23:15:00