Karen Zemlin is a 55-year-old American open water swimmer from Plymouth, Minnesota.
Open Water Swimming Highlights
- On 26-29 April 2023, Karen completed the SCAR Swim Challenge, a 4-day stage swim in Arizona, in a combined time of 14:35:46 for an overall 4th place, 2nd place female. Her escort kayaker was Kelly Lindblom.
- On 18 June 2022, she finished 2nd at the Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test (END-WET) down-river 36-mile (57.9 km) marathon swim from Belmont Park, North Dakota into East Grand Forks, Minnesota along the Red River of the North in 8 hours 33 minutes at the age of 54. Her escort kayaker was Brian Huschle
- On 31 October 2021 Karen completed the Swim Around Charleston a 20.12k (12.5 mi) swim in Charleston Bay in 4 hours 22 minutes and 59 seconds. She was fourth place overall and second place female swimmer at age 53.
- On 9 April 2020 Karen Bosveld Zemlin was inducted into the Minnesota Swimming Hall of Fame, becoming the first member of the Hall of Fame to represent open water marathon swimming.
- On 24 August 2019, she completed a 33.5 km crossing of the English Channel from England to France in 10 hours 17 minutes, age 51, the fastest ever recorded by a woman over the age of 50 and the third fastest by anybody in that age bracket male or female, 3rd fastest time out of 151 in 2019. She was escorted by boat captain Michael Oram.
- In June 2019 she completed the 32.1 km Lake Mille Lacs from Isle, Minnesota to Garrison, Minnesota in 9 hours 55 minutes 20 seconds, age 51 *course record, first documented swim of Lake Mille Lacs
- On 19 September 2018, she completed a 32.3 km crossing of the Catalina Channel from Santa Catalina Island to the Southern California mainland in 9 hours 44 minutes 31 seconds, age 50. Fastest female swim in 2018. Her escort kayaker was Dan Simonelli.
- On 21 April 2018, she completed the 37 km Tampa Bay Marathon Swim in Florida 9 hours 55 minutes, age 50. 1st place overall
- In September 2017 she completed the 16.1 km 16th Annual La Jolla Cove 10 Mile Relay in 3 hours 30 minutes and 12 seconds at age 49, solo swim, 1st place female, 2nd place over all
- In August of 2015 she completed the 14 km Henley Marathon Swim Bridge to Bridge in the Thames in 3 hours 20 minutes 39 seconds, age 47, 1st place overall all ages
- In August 2014 she completed the 32.2 km Apostle Island Relay Swim around Madeline Island Lake Superior in 8 hours 49 minutes at the age of 46 as a solo swim. 1st place overall
- On 14 June 2014, she completed the 45.9 km Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in New York in 7 hours 23 minutes 44 seconds at the age of 46. 3rd place overall, 2nd place female. Her escort kayaker was Richard Clifford.
- On 13 July 2013, she completed the 43.5 km END-WET from Grand Forks in North Dakota to Oslo, Minnesota in 6 hours 58 minutes at the age of 45. 1st place overall *Course record for the 43.5k course
- On 28 July 2012, she completed the 16.1 km Minnetonka Challenge in Minnesota in 3 hours 49 minutes 6 seconds at the age of 44. 2nd place overall, 1st place female
Karen's Swimming Story:
- She swam her first lake race at 13 years old. 40 years later, she has become a prolific marathon swimmer.
- She grew up in Minnesota surrounded by lakes. Her father, Roger Bosveld, a marathon swimmer and long-time swim coach in Minnesota, introduced her to the joy of lake swimming. For them, swimming is about wind, waves and distant horizons.
- She swam under Jim Brobin at Mounds View High School, who taught his swimmers that, "It’s what you do after you’re tired that counts." A saying Karen embodies in her swimming career.
- During her collegiate years, Karen set 1000-yard freestyle school records at the University of River Falls and Hamline University that still stand today.
- While swimming at Hamline with Marty Knight, she was named Hamline Woman’s Outstanding Junior Athlete, received the Pat Paterson Award, and later was inducted into the Hamline Athletic Hall of Fame.
- After college, as a masters swimmer, swimming with coach Scott Tripps in Hopkins, she has set State Records in distance events in many master’s age groups.
Some fun facts about Karen:
- She has earned the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, American Triple Crown, and Grand Slam of Open Water Swimming
- She is the fastest woman age 50+ to swim the English Channel
- Karen took 44,424 strokes to cross the English Channel
- Her combined Triple Crown time is 27 hours 25 minutes 15 seconds
- Her combined Grand Slam time is 37 hours 10 minutes 15 seconds, the 3rd overall fastest behind Penny Palfrey in 33 hours 34 minutes and Marcia Cleveland in 35 hours 57 minutes.
- She has the first documented swim of Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota
- She still holds the 1000 freestyle record at Hamline University she set in 1989
- Karen still holds the 1000 and 1650 freestyle records at University of Wisconsin River Falls set in 1987
- At the time of her swim, her time for MIMS is the second fastest time for a 45+ year old woman behind Penny Palfrey
- At age 51 Karen's English Channel swim was the third fastest swim in 2019 behind Chloe McCardel and Tom Knight age 34 and 36 respectively
- Her Henley swim was 4 days after her first English Channel attempt where she froze out after 12 hours less than a mile from the Cap.
- Her first, unofficial swim across Lake Mille Lacs was a training swim with her dad as he was training for an English Channel attempt
- Karen was an NCAA All American in 1989
- Karen has 65 individual USMS Top Ten swims
- Karen is a 2 time USMS All American for long distance swimming, 4 time USMS All American in the pool
- Karen swims with the Hopkins Master Club in Minnesota
- Karen and her dad swam to Alcatraz and back as a training swim
- At age 50, her 32.3 km Catalina Channel time was the fastest swim by a woman in 2018
- At age 50, she won the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim in 2018, its 20th anniversary
- Karen is the 2nd fastest 50+ year old female to swim the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim (*Marcy MacDonald swam the Tampa Bay solo in 9:31 at age 54)
- Karen has the 5th fastest time for the Minnetonka Challenge 10 mile course
- Karen has the course record for the 43.5k and the fastest time for a female on the 57.9k END-WET courses
- Karen has the 3rd fastest female swim in the La Jolla Cove 10 Mile Relay at age 49
- Karen was chosen to be the END-WET 2022 Guest Swimmer
- She holds the women's course record for the Point to La Pointe Swim in Lake Superior
- She is a member of the Half Century Club for the English Channel and Catalina Channel Half Century Club
- She has consistently ranked in USMS Top Ten and appeared on FINA’s International Masters Swimming Top Ten
- She is a member of the Minnesota Master’s Swimming Hall of Fame
- Karen's 2023 SCAR combined time of 14:35:46 was the 7th fasted time, 6th fastest individual all time, at the time of her swim
- Catalina Swim Association observer: "She was all business. Got in, swam like a maniac, got out. And, just like that, all done!"
- CS&PF Tweet: "Excellent swim and apparently a seal was waiting as you climbed on the rocks!"
- Karen Zemlin on her second English Channel attempt: "I invited the cooperation of the English Channel."
- On her Mille Lacs swim: "With so many fabulous lakes in Minnesota I think it would be great to get more recognized as marathon swimming opportunities."
- Ron Collins on Karen's Tampa Bay Swim: “Swimming on a calm day, going the length of Tampa Bay in less than 10 hours is an amazing feat. Karen was able to battle choppy 1-2 foot waves and a 15-knot wind right from the start to win the event."
2018 Tampa Bay Marathon Swim
The Extreme North Dakota Watersports Endurance Test or END-WET, is a 27-mile (43.4 km) mixed-sports event where solo and relay swimmers pit themselves against other endurance athletes down the Red River between Grand Forks, North Dakota and Oslo, Minnesota in the United States. It is one of the longest marathon swims in the world and directed by Andy Magness.
Lake Superior Relay
Karen Zemlin (55), Craig Collins (64), Casey McGrath (51), Seth Baetzold, Mike Miller, and Jeff Everett completed a 23.5-hour 48-mile open water swimming relay from near Split Rock Lighthouse to Duluth, Minnesota on 30 August 2023 to raise awareness of the impact of climate change on Lake Superior.
- Swimmers complete record 24-hour Lake Superior relay — without wetsuits
- Michael Rice, Catherine Breed Win The 2023 SCAR Swim
- Jamie Proffitt Sets New END-WET Record
- Volunteers Needed for END-WET in the Mighty Red River
- The END-WET 2022 Guest Swimmer is....
- Lake Monster Gives Water Temps Across USA
- Swimming In The Red
- Michael Rice to Defend His SCAR Title Against Some Fast, Fast People in Arizona
- S.C.A.R. Swim Challenge
- Open Water Swimming
- Karen Zemlin's Wikipedia page
- KAREN BOSVELD ZEMLIN INDUCTED INTO MN SWIMMING HOF
- Karen Zemlin crosses English Channel, makes Minnesota Swimming Hall of Fame
- With gratitude, Karen Zemlin took on the English Channel — and won
- HU ALUM KAREN ZEMLIN SWIMS ACROSS THE ENGLISH CHANNEL IN NEAR RECORD TIME
- Karen's Marathon Swimmers Federation bio
- Karen's Mille Lacs Swim
- Karen's United States Masters Swimming bio
- Karen's Hamline University Hall of Fame bio
- Karen's Minnesota Masters Hall of Fame bio
- Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation
- Tampa Bay Marathon Swim
- WOWSA Article on 2018 Tampa Bay Marathon Swim
- Bridge to Bridge 2015 - results - Henley Swim
- Results breakdown for Bridge to Bridge 2015
- 16th Annual La Jolla Cove 10 Mile Relay Results by Category
- 2014 AIRS blurb
- Relay race in Lake Superior to challenge swimmers
- WOWSA article on 2014 MIMS race
- Open Water Swimming
- Training in Mille Lacs for the big swim
- END-WET 27km down river swimming race, Grand Forks, North Dakota
- Daily News of Open Water Swimming
- A belated congratulations to Karen Zemlin
- A family swim, across Mille Lacs
- Apostle Island Relay Marathon Swim around Madeline Island
- Different Strokes Open-water swimmers trade endless laps in the pool for long stretches of outdoor serenity and adventure.
- Swimming: Females set pace in Gull Lake Challenge
- 'Karen, that's it': Cold, other challenges sunk English Channel attempt
- UW River Falls Women's Swimming Records
- USMS Go the Distance” Highlights September 2007
- Hamline swimming alum Karen Zemlin inducted into MN Swimming Hall of Fame
- MN Swimming Hall of Fame
- Karen's MN Swimming Hall of Fame Bio
- Blurb mentioning Karen's Henely Swim
- Fastest Times Of The Grand Slam Of Open Water Swimming
- Swim Around Charleston