Canadian History for Kids!
Sketches of Canada for August 30th!
August 30th marks the 25th anniversary of Vicki Keith successfully completing her swim of all 5 Great Lakes! This Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada, looks at the amazing marathon swimmer and her triumphant swim of the Great Lakes!
The 27-year-old from Kingston started her extraordinary summer of swimming July 1st 1988.
The goal to cross the Great Lakes began officially in Port Colborne. She slipped into Lake Erie at precisely 6:06 p.m. Just under 11 hours later, the first of the five major swims was completed. But Vicki was looking for more. She attempted the first double crossing of Lake Erie.
Four miles from her destination, battling waves as high as two metres, she was pulled from the water, the victim of a swift, curling undertow. Something Lake Erie is well known for.
Next came the mighty Lake Huron, which had frustrated every distance swimmer’s previous attempts to cross it. Keith knocked off the 75-km journey in 47 hours, guided to the Goderich shoreline in the early-morning darkness by dozens of vehicle headlights. The Goderich shoreline was packed with spectators cheering her on.
Just eight days later, she defeated Lake Michigan, arriving in Chicago a tiresome 53 hours after starting the 72-km swim.
On Aug. 15, she became the first swimmer to conquer mighty Superior. Exceptionally calm, warm water, and Keith’s amazing determination, helped her complete the 32-km distance from Orienta, Wisc., to Two Harbors, Minn., in just 17 hours, seven hours faster than the projected finishing time.
That left Ontario. On Aug. 30, she completed the 45.3-km distance in 23 1/2 hours. touching land at the Leslie Street Spit at 6 a.m. The Great Lakes Challenge was over.
In 1998, the headlands of the Leslie Street Spit was renamed Vicki Keith Point. A plaque erected at the site reads, in part, “… in recognition of a great Canadian athlete and humanitarian.”
And that’s this week’s Canadian History for Kids, Sketches of our Canada!