Champion swimmer Susie Maroney will tell you that marathon swimming is not a sport for the faint hearted. Imagine swimming constantly for over 38 hours, withstanding extreme conditions such as heavy seas and darkness, a mouth full of salt water, sea sickness and a swollen tongue, relentless jelly fish stings, the constant pounding of waves against your ribs and wrists and hallucinations of monkeys swinging in and around your shark cage.
Susie captured the world’s attention in June 1999, when she completed the world’s longest open water swim, from Mexico to Cuba, swimming almost 200 kilometers over 38 hours; the marine equivalent of climbing Mount Everest. This feat was achieved a little over a year after she undertook the world’s first swim from Cuba to Florida, a distance of 180 kilometers, following her non-stop swim from Cuba to US Territorial Waters in 1996.
These weren’t the first occasions that Susie has captured worldwide attention. At the early age of 14, she won the USA Long Distance Championships, and then at 15 became the youngest and fastest Australian to swim the English Channel. Considering Susie began swimming as a young child to case her symptoms of asthma, it is easy to understand why she has become an inspiration to young swimmers everywhere.
With sheer determination and grueling hard work, Susie has made a huge impact on world swimming with her long list of World Records and endurance feats. These include being twice inducted into the International Hall of Swimming Fame for her Cuba to Florida and Mexico to Cuba swims; securing a Guinness Book of World Records listing for the longest distance swum in 24 hours (93.6kms); the fastest swims in the Manhattan Island Marathon Race (7 hours 7 minutes) and the Lake Zurich Marathon Race (26kms in 6 hours 3 minutes); fastest woman to complete a double crossing of the English Channel (17 hours 15 minutes); and single fastest crossing of the English Channel, all before reaching the age of 24.
The Premier of NSW, Bob Carr, said “Susie Maroney is a shining example of the rewards of motivation and hard work”. Susie’s marathon swimming has elevated her to become one of Australia’s most admired sporting icons. Her awards and honours include and Order of Australia, and Outstanding Achievement Award from the NSW Government and the Variety Club’s Sportswoman of the Year. Prime Minister John Howard addressed Susie personally saying “In fact, what you have achieved I am sure will go down as yet another great moment in Australia’s proud sporting history”.
Susie completed her farewell swim on 23 February,2003 by swimming from the Opera House at Circular Quay to Manly Wharf. After competing in the World’s Fittest Woman Competition in Hong Kong in August Susie is now concentrating on her public speaking engagements and Ambassadorships.
Susie has graced the pages of newspapers, magazines and television screens across the globe. The world has fallen in love with this ‘darling of Australia’ and she has focused her fame towards community service. Susie is the Ambassador for the Asthma Foundation of NSW, Ambassador for Special Olympics Australia and spokesperson for the Leukemia Foundation of NSW. Susie has been an Australia Day Ambassador since 1995 and has recently become an Ambassador for Sydney Water’s drought and mandatory water restrictions campaign and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.
Susie is the proud mom of 2 daughters and a son.