Wheaton native completes record-setting two-way crossing of Torch Lake, Michigan

  • Marian Cardwell at the start of the nonstop swim across Torch Lake (Michigan) two times, covering over 35.6 miles in a continuous 18-plus hour effort and reflects on solidarity with Type 1 diabetes community.

    Marian Cardwell at the start of the nonstop swim across Torch Lake (Michigan) two times, covering over 35.6 miles in a continuous 18-plus hour effort and reflects on solidarity with Type 1 diabetes community. Courtesy of Greg Aldin

 
 
Updated 8/6/2021 10:40 PM

Marian Cardwell completed a record-breaking continuous 18+ hour swim effort on Thursday, Aug. 5, in order to raise awareness for Type 1 diabetes and support the research through the Chicago Diabetes Project.

Her initial 106-mile planned course began at 7:14 a.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4, at the Torch River Bridge Torch Lake Access site and ended early due to safety concerns from her support crew at the same point at 1:50 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 5, after successfully traveling the length of the Michigan lake two times.

 

"It's tough, knowing that I had trained for so much more, but with marathon swimming you're often on a razor's edge," said Marian Cardwell, reflecting on the collective decision with her crew early this morning to cut the effort short of the original 106-mile goal. "As I continue to learn from the amazing Type 1 (diabetes) community over the last years, I know that no amount of planning or preparation means perfection. This disease is often unpredictable, and I will continue fighting on behalf of this community."

The 31-year-old Oak Park resident shows her support by using her gift for athletic endurance to complete marathon swims on behalf of her late uncle Wally Filkin's chosen diabetes research foundation, the Chicago Diabetes Project. The Wheaton man served on the board of Central DuPage Hospital for 30 years, and as president of the alumni board of Wheaton College.

"He was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1955 and observing his perseverance and zest for life while living with the disease was continually inspiring," Cardwell said.

Cardwell previously swam across the English Channel in 2012 for the same cause and most recently placed second in the 36-mile ultramarathon END-WET race in June 2021.

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The two-way Torch Lake swim was completed according to "Channel Rules," which are defined as "Each swimmer may wear one textile swimming costume, one bathing cap -- latex or silicone, and goggles. No wet suits are permitted."

Cardwell plans to re-enter iconic Torch Lake today to promote support for her audacious $50k fundraising goal. "We're close to $18k this morning after receiving a lot of donations yesterday. There's swimming left in me, and with the community support that I felt yesterday -- from television coverage to cheers from boats and docks along the way -- I know we can do it."

The 2007 Wheaton North grad has been swimming her entire life, including swimming the English Channel in 2012. She has strong connections to Michigan, graduating from Calvin University, and next week, beginning her first year of medical school at Central Michigan University.

The Chicago Diabetes Project is working to make islet cell transplantation a viable treatment option for Type 1 diabetes. The Chicago Diabetes Project is a global collaboration of scientists, researchers, physicians, and surgeons with one mission: cure diabetes.

There is more information and live tracker during the event available at TheGreatDiabetesSwim.com.

Fundraising information is available at gofundme.com/f/the-great-diabetes-swim.