Vicki Keith (born 26 February 1961 in Winnipeg, Manitoba), has held at least 16 world records and has received over 40 honours and awards. Her marathon swims crossed many of the world's most challenging bodies of water.
Constantly surpassing the records of other swimmers as well as previous records of her own, Vicki has become, to many, the face of marathon swimming both here in Canada and around the world. Her most recognised accomplishments include becoming the first person to swim across all five Great Lakes in 1988 (completed in two months) and for being the only person to complete the 104 km double crossing of Lake Ontario.She came out of retirement to attempt a new world record on August 5, 2005. Her goal was to swim 80.5 km (50 mi) from Oswego, New York to Kingston, Ontario. However, her attempt was cut short due to high waves. Just before leaving the water, she was averaging only one kilometre an hour because of waves more than three metres tall. If Keith had continued, the wind and waves would have added 30 more hours to her expected 48-hour swim.
Two weeks after her unsuccessful attempt, Keith was back in the water. This time the route was a shore line swim in Lake Ontario from Point Petre in Prince Edward County to Lake Ontario Park in Kingston. She completed 80.2 kilometres, setting a new world record for distance butterfly and a second world record for the longest continuous open water swim, when she completed the distance in 63 hours and 40 minutes (over 2½ days). The swim originally was predicted to take 48 hours but Keith had to fight high winds and waves, strong currents, cold temperatures, and hallucinations as she pushed beyond what most believed feasible to accomplish her goal.
Vicki has been appointed as a member of the Order of Canada, in recognition of her outstanding achievements and service. In 1996 she was inducted into the Terry Fox Hall of Fame, and in 1998 she had her most famous arrival and departure point renamed after her. The headlands of the Leslie Street Spit in Toronto, are now called Vicki Keith Point.
To date, she has raised over $1 million CAD to support programs for children with physical disabilities. Retired from marathon swimming, Keith has coached 16 athletes with a disability to the National level in competitive swimming, and 6 athletes to world records in marathon swimming.