Vicki Keith popularized the tip of Leslie Street Spit as a spot to land on the Toronto shoreline when completing or starting cross-lake swims on Lake Ontario. In 1998, ten years after her conquest of all five Great Lakes in the same season, the mayor of Toronto unveiled a plaque in honour of Vicki's swimming achievements and efforts in raising significant funds for disabled children. From that time onwards, the point has been known as Vicki Keith Point.
The traditional finishing point for north-bound Lake Ontario swimmers is at Marilyn Bell Park, west of Ontario Place; however, a strong west wind can drive swimmers to the east of Toronto Island. In the past, such swimmers had no other choice than to attempt to land at the Clark Beach Park - which is at the foot of Cherry Street, on the eastern side of the Eastern Channel into Toronto Harbour. With the construction of Leslie Street Spit as a landfill (now named as Tommy Thomson Park), it became possible for swimmers to land at the point on the spit (Vicki Keith point) - a distance that is some 2.5 km shorter than the trip to Clark Beach Park, and 5 km shorter than the distance from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Marilyn Bell Park. The true navigational locations (waypoints) of Marilyn Bell Park, Clark Beach park, Vicki Keith Point, and other key locations are detailed in a separate file, and are associated with a separate file that details the related cross-lake distances.
From a distance, the lighthouse (shown on the right in the above photographs) may appear as a welcome sight to a tired and westwardly drifting swimmer; however, a closer look at the slabs of reinforced concrete debris (shown in the photograph on the left) reveals the nature of the risk in approaching the point - twisted lengths of reinforcing steel emerge from the concrete like steel serpents, both above and below the water line. This area of the spit has to be approached with great caution - especially in rough water. A tired and exhausted swimmer may, however, see this point as a welcome sight and it is the responsibility of the navigator, coach, and Swim Master to approach this shore with caution.
There is one relatively Safe Beach with a gravel base for a swimmer to land at the Spit and it is located on the eastern side, some 330 m from the
point. Its geographical coordinates are 43° 36' 55" N, 79° 20' 31" - just 70 m and almost south-east (125° magnetic) of the plaque commemorating
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Created: 20th August 2000
Last Updated: 23rd March 2003