I’d like to talk about Lake Ontario, this beautiful lake here that looks so clean and pristine and a pretty blue today, here in Oakville.
I was born in Toronto a couple of blocks from Lake Ontario in the Swansea Area and when I was in my stroller, my mother brought me down to the shores of Lake Ontario to Gzowski Park where we would sit by the water all day. I did a lot of swimming in the pool there, Sunnyside Pool.
I guess Lake Ontario is my first lake memory and the story actually goes further back, before I was born. I was named after Marilyn Bell who swam Lake Ontario in 1954, my mother was sick in bed and listened to every minute of her blow by blow, of her 24 hour swim across Lake Ontario. Three years later when I was born she names me Marilyn after Marilyn Bell because the name meant strength and endurance to her.
So I have lived with the Marilyn Bell legacy all my life and when I was in university I decided to swim across Lake Ontario. Follow in her footsteps as it were. The first time I tried to swim Lake Ontario I got lost in the fog and the swim had to be called off five miles from shore. I remember vividly for the two years before I actually succeeded at swimming Lake Ontario every time I drove past Lake Ontario and had glimpse of it, my heart hurt because I didn’t make it across the lake. Fortunately in 1983 I succeeded and in 1984 I loved Lake Ontario so much I swam the other way, the hard way against the current.
When I cross the first time, I was really tired and I was so glad, the pain was finally over but the next day when it sunk in, I was elated. Then every time I drove by the lake it didn’t hurt anymore, I felt like I had conquered it, it was my lake.
Now I live on the shore of Lake Ontario in Stoney creek, I look at it every morning and every evening, I had a little spot where I could look out the window and breastfeed my 3 children looking at the lake so it’s a part of me.
My name is Marilyn Korzekwa.