Karen Zemlin is an American open water swimmer from Minnesota who completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming in 2019. She has completed ten documented marathon swims to date and is still swimming. Karen is a member of the Hamline University Athletic Hall of Fame, Minnesota Masters Swimming Hall of Fame, and on April 9, 2020 Karen was inducted into the Minnesota Swimming Hall of Fame.
Marathon Swim Accomplishments After 50 Years Old
Karen is a member of the Half Century Club for the English Channel and Catalina Channel Half Century Club. She is the fastest woman age 50+ to swim the English Channel. At age 51 Karen's English Channel swim was the third fastest swim in 2019. At age 50, Karen's Catalina time was the fastest swim by a woman in 2018. She won the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim in 2018 its 20th anniversary at the age of 50.
Minnesota and Upper Midwest Swims
Karen has the first documented swim of Lake Mille Lacs in Minnesota. She has the course record for the 43.5k END-WET course. Karen also holds the women's course record for the Point to La Pointe Swim in Lake Superior. 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 does do shorter swims in lakes in her home state of Minnesota.
Karen's combined Triple Crown time is 27:24:44. Karen was an NCAA All American in 1989. She still holds the 1000 freestyle record at Hamline University she set in 1989. Karen has 60 individual USMS Top Ten swims and she 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.
Marathon Swimming Career Highlights
- 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
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- in July of 2015 Karen attempted to swim the English Channel and swam to a stand still just short of France.
- 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 at age 47, 1st place overall for non wetsuit
- 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
- On 21 April 2018, she completed the 37 km Tampa Bay Marathon Swim in Florida 9 hours 55 minutes at age 50, 1st place overall
- 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 at age 50
- 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 at age 51
- On 24 August 2019, she completed a 33.5 km crossing of the English Channel from England to France in 10 hours 17 minutes at age 51