Colleen Shields crossed Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Leslie Street Spit on August 10-11, 1990 in 17 hours 56 minutes at age 38. The swim started at 9:00 pm on the Friday eveningThe water temperature ranged from 71 to 74°F, while air temperature started at 73°F, dropped to 69°F between the hours of midnight and 5:00 am, before rising to 84°F at 2:56 pm when the swim finished. With mild and favourable wind conditions for most of the swim Colleen, however, developed back pain after approximately 5 hours and this problem persisted for most of the swim. She also encountered nausea after just shortly into the swim. Her free-style stroke rate started at 60 and fell to a low of 44 after 6 hours, before steadily rising to 53, and finishing at 60 strokes per minute. At age 38, she became the oldest woman to have crossed the lake, beating the previous record of 28-year-old Brenda Fisher (1956 swim) and Vicki Keith (1989 swim). Colleen held this record for one year until 45-year-old Patty Thompson crossed the lake.
Subsequently, after one aborted attempt in water at 10°C, she became the first person to swim from Tobermory to Manatoulin Island on Lake Huron. In recognition of this feat, the local people dubbed her Queen of the Chichimaun.
Colleen has a history of achievements in sprint swimming, and took part in the Olympic Trials in 1976 on backstroke. She has continued her sprint swimming through Masters competition, representing Etobicoke Masters. She is seen here in 1994 at the dedication ceremony for the plaque at Niagara-on-the-lake.
In 1997, Colleen received the Cliff Lumsdon Award of SSO in recognition of her marathon swimming achievements, her service on the SSO Board, and her support of other swimmers.
SSO Home Page | Lake Ontario Swim List | Lake Huron Swim List
Cliff Lumsdon Award | NOTL Plaque | Contact WebMaster
Created: 8th May 2001
Last Updated: 25th October 2003