|One of Canada's best known marathon swimmers and dedicated to the support and skills development of
children and the disabled, Vicki is seen here in 1994 at the dedication ceremony for the plaque at
Vicki has been the recipient of over 41 awards and recognitions, with numerous swimming achievements to her
On the left, Vicki is captured by Steven Siewert (copyright) of the Sydney 'Sun Herald' during her 13.5 hour butterfly circumnavigation on 13 May 1989 of what she called Sydney's playground - 14 miles of Sydney Harbour and Darling Harbour.
After swimming in a shark cage for about the first two hours of her Sydney Harbour swim, Vicki could no longer stand the restriction "Because butterfly is such a wide stroke my fingers were being cut on the mesh. My feet, too. It was like a cheese grater."
The endurance aspect of marathon swimming covers a variety of evils including cold conditions, rough water, jelly fish, etc. - but for the unlucky, it may also include the occasional encounter with pollution. Vicki has encountered more than her fair share of oil slicks during her swims on Lake Ontario and during the Darling Harbour portion of her Australian swim. As she stepped ashore at Watsons Bay, at the end of her Sydney Harbour swim, an Australian reporter (Patrick Connelly of Wide Water swim magazine) described her as "resembling the business end of a dipstick"!
Vicki completed five successful crossings of Lake Ontario, including the only successful two-way swim to date, and the only crossing on butterfly. In 1988, Vicki completed a major swim on each of Canada's five Great Lakes (Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario) - all in the same year. Ten years after her 1988 feat, the city of Toronto honoured her by naming the point of Leslie Street Spit after her. The wording of the plaque that is located at the approach to Vicki Keith Point is reproduced below (with one spelling correction). The plaque is located at 43° 36' 56" N, 79° 20' 34" W and is well worth the walk to The Point on a weekend when industrial work on The Spit is on hold - it's a beautiful Nature Reserve.
Vicki's dream has always been to make a difference in other peoples lives, so, in 2005, when the need for new opportunities for children
with disabilites in Kingston, Ontario became apparent, Vicki came out of swimming retirement, and spent 63 hours and 40 minutes in
Lake Ontario, completing 80.2 kilometres butterfly, setting 2 world records and raising over $200,000 for the Kingston Family YMCA This
brought her lifetime fundraising total to over one million dollars.
This point of land was the most famous arrival and
This plaque has been erected on the 10th anniversary of
Determined to raise awareness as well as funds for disabled children,
In recognition of a great Canadian athlete and humanitarian,
A year after her 1988 achievements on the Great Lakes, Vicki went on to conquer the English with the first ever crossing on butterfly with a time of 23:33. Also in 1989, she crossed the Catalina Channel from Catalina to the mainland in a time of 14:53:26 in September.
Vicki continues to train disabled swimmers and provides numerous Inspirational Talks. One of her notable achievements was the training of quadruple-amputee Ashley Cowan to swim Lake Erie. In 2012 Vicki released a video of one of her inspirational talks that focussed on the determination and achievement of Ashley Cowan.
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Created: 20th August 2000
Last Updated: 18th May 2020