Marian Cardwell - Torch Lake

South - North - South

57.4 km (35.7 miles)

18 hours, 36 minutes on 4-5 August 2021

Observed and documented by Will Dichtel & Andy Walberer

First Documented Two-Way



  • Name: Marian Cardwell
  • Gender: female
  • Age on swim date: 31
  • Nationality: United States
  • Resides: Illinois

Support Personnel

Observers: Will Dichtel and Andy Walberer

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Textile swimsuit (Speedo Flyback), silicone cap, goggles, grease, adventure light and glow sticks for night illumination.

Route Definition

  • Body of Water:
  • Route Type: multi-way
  • Start & Finish Location: Torch Lake Access site near Torch River Bridge (44.850624, -85.328207)
  • Turnaround Location: Public boat ramp in Central Lake, MI (44.850624, -85.328207)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 57.4 km (35.7 miles) (map)
    • 28.7 km per length


Undocumented one-way swim by Jen Dutton in 2014.

Swim Data

  • Start: 4 August 2021, 07:14:08 (Eastern Daylight, America/Detroit, UTC-4).
  • Finish: 5 August 2021, 01:50:36
  • Elapsed: 18 hours, 36 minutes, 28 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (F) 67.2 78.4
Air Temp (F) 64 94
Wind (mph) 0 6.5

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 20 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot

Nutrition: See feed plan (Excel document)

Observer Log

Download PDF


by Marian Cardwell

What inspired you to do this swim?

Since 2012, I have been doing distance swims to raise support for the Chicago Diabetes Project, a type 1 diabetes research foundation, in honor (and later in memory) of my uncle. The resilience of people living with type 1 diabetes inspires me to train for and do long swims. This specific swim was intended to be across Lake Michigan. However, after a late-breaking logistical issue in the last week before the swim, we were forced to pivot. To take advantage of my training and still bring attention to type 1 diabetes, my crew came together and pulled off the heroic effort of organizing a swim across Torch Lake in its place. Some of my crewmembers and I have ties to Michigan with resources with access to Torch Lake, creating a great Plan B and opportunity to still do something large to bring attention to type 1 diabetes.

Please describe how you planned for the swim.

Since this swim was a Plan B, much of the planning was for a much different swim. I planned for this swim like I plan for most swims, in three parts: logistics, mental training, and physical training.

For Torch Lake, my crew took over the boating and navigational logistics making this swim possible. For the “swimmer logistics,” I created a detailed feeding plan that I shared with my crew. The feeding plan is a continuous iteration based on learnings from previous swims.

The mental training is a part of my every day. Whether it’s creating the mental fortitude to continue in challenging life experiences, continuing to train, or learning where to draw new strength, it is something I think about frequently. I had been mentally bracing myself for the past 6 years to swim across Lake Michigan so I had a short time for my brain to pivot to Torch Lake, but I did feel I had my head in a good spot.

Physically, I have been training in earnest for the past 2.5 years with some more creative training during the pandemic when pools were closed. My pandemic training included weightlifting, cycling, and “swimming” with resistance bands. I started swimming in Lake Michigan in April of 2020. In August of 2020, I did a 24-hour swim of a combination of swimming in Lake Michigan with kayak support and tethered swimming in pool. In the winter, my training tapered due to limited pool time, swimming 40,000m/week. During this time, I also continued to do short (1 mile) swims in Lake Michigan to continue to practice cold water acclimation and completed an ice mile in December of 2020. Also during this time and into the Spring, my training out of the water included cycling 10+ hours/week and weightlifting. During the summer of 2021, I completed END-WET in June as a training swim and continued to train in Lake Michigan, pools, and endless pools. On average, I was swimming 4-6 hours/day throughout the summer. During my heaviest training, I hit 140k meters/week.

How did the swim go, generally? Did you face any unanticipated challenges?

My goal was to complete a 6-way continuous crossing of Torch Lake, but I only completed a double-crossing. During my first crossing, I was focused on staying long. I felt good on my first crossing, but noticed the water was very striated temperature-wise. About halfway through my second crossing, I could tell I was getting quite cold. This was extremely frustrating, disappointing, and unexpected. I always expected to get cold, but I didn’t expect it to happen on length #2. I believe this was due to some underlying health conditions that were more prevalent than in previous swims. Aside from the temperature, physically, I felt prepared. Swimming a 5-mile “fun swim” the next day to continue to draw attention to type 1 diabetes also gave me confidence in my training regimen for future swims. Although I left feeling quite frustrated in myself, this was a great learning opportunity, and I will apply my lessons learned to future swims. My body was ready for more and I look forward to putting it to the test when I get the chance.


Click to enlarge.