Report: Minnesota swimmer falls short in bid to cross English Channel


Karen Zemlin of Plymouth was unsuccessful in her attempt to swim the English Channel Friday, abandoning the effort after she was more than three-fourths of the way across, the Star Tribune reports.

The newspaper says tracking data show Zemlin spent more than 12 hours in the water as she tried complete the 21-mile swim from Dover, England to Calais, France.

Zemlin, 47, is a 1990 graduate of Hamline University and still holds the school record for the 1,000 meter freestyle, the university says.

The cold water, tricky currents, and volatile weather combine with the distance to make an English Channel crossing one of the ultimate challenges for open water swimmers.

The Star Tribune says about half of the swimmers who attempt the crossing do not make it. Hamline says fewer than 500 women have accomplished it.

Zemlin says her father introduced her to open water swimming when she was 13.

She's had many successes since then, including winning a 20-mile swim in Wisconsin's Apostle Islands last summer. In June she was the winner of a race on Gull Lake in the Brainerd area.

Zemlin did some of her training for her English Channel swim in Mille Lacs Lake, where the Mille Lacs Messenger caught up with her.

Her training was in keeping with the English Channel rules laid out by the Channel Swimming & Piloting Federation. They allow just one swimsuit with no sleeves or insulation and prohibit touching a boat or another person while swimming.

Zemlin's meals would be in liquid form, in a tube tossed to her by her husband and her brother from a nearby boat, she told the Messenger.

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