In 1958, Vancouverite Ann Meraw swam Okanagan Lake non-stop, without a wetsuit from Kelowna to Penticton (88 kilometres) in 32 hours, 12 minutes — a feat that has never been matched.
Hundreds greeted her on the shores in Penticton when she arrived.
As a teenager, she swam from English Bay to Bowen Island in seven hours.
Meraw became Canada’s first female registered life guard, and the only woman coach ever in the World Professional Federation of Swimming, according to the Order of BC.
She earned her living as a lifeguard, swimming coach, instructor and examiner. Over the years, she saved 63 people from drowning, seven as a life guard and the rest during her many thousands of hours of swimming.
The Maple Ridge resident received the Order of BC in 2008. She passed away in 2017 at the age of 100.
Many have attempted to swim the entire length of the lake since then, drawn by the challenge of the lake’s vastness.
The current Guinness Book record holder of a wetsuit swim across the entire lake is held by Adam Ellenstein who completed the feat back in 2016.
The American completed a 105-kilometer swim (65 miles) in an unofficial time of 40 hours and 47 minutes. He stepped out of the water to the cheers of a crowd estimated at more than 200 people at SS Sicamous Heritage Park at 10:46 p.m. PDT.
Kelowna resident Nick Pelletier attempted the wetsuit swim in August 2021, but wildfire smoke and a sudden shoulder injury forced him to stop the swim.
It’s not known if Pelletier will attempt it again this summer.
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