Karen Burton Reeder was an American professional marathon swimmer and graduate of the Air Force Academy where she received a bachelor’s degree in Human Factor Engineering.
After her career, she was honored by becoming a member of the Academy’s Wall of Fame [see above].
She was also inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as an Honour Swimmer in 1999.
Besides winning the 1992 Waikiki Roughwater Swim on Oahu, Hawaii, Burton won a total of 6 USA Swimming national open water swimming championships, including three 15 km (9.3-mile) races and one 25 km (15.5-mile) race. Her highest finish at the FINA World Swimming Championships was a bronze medal in the 25 km (15.5 miles) in 1991, and she later represented the United States at the 1998 FINA World Swimming Championships.
She won a FINA World Cup race in Lac St-Jean in Canada in 1992 and was a two-time world professional marathon swimming champion in 1996 and 1997. In 1994, she set the women’s record for the Catalina Channel crossing in 7 hours 43 minutes in 1994.
In the pre-GPS days, she swam a quick English Channel crossing in 9 hours 4 minutes in 1993 and was a member of the USA Swimming National Team English Channel relay in 1990 when she teamed up with Jay Wilkerson, Chad Hundeby, Martha Jahn, Dirk Bouma, and Sid Cassidy to set three English Channel relay records: 6 hours 52 minutes on their first leg (England-to-France), 7 hours 26 minutes on their second leg (France-to-England), and the fastest overall and fastest 2-way relay (England-to-France-to-England) in 14 hours 18 minutes in 1990. The team was coached by Penny Dean and John York.
She served as the USA Swimming Open Water Swimming Coordinator for four years and organized open water swimming competitions in Colorado.
Fastest Catalina Channel Crossings in History:
1. 7:15 by Penny Lee Dean, USA, MC in September 1976
2. 7:27 by Grace van der Byl, USA, CM in October 2012
3. 7:37 by Pete Huisveld, USA, MC in August 1992
4. 7:41 by John York, USA, MC in September 1978 (first leg of a 2-way)
5. 7:43 by Karen Burton, USA, CM in October 1994
6. 8:05 by Todd Robinson, USA, CM in August 2009
7. 8:07:03 by Hank Wise, USA, CM in October 2010
8 8:07:37 by Hank Wise, USA, MC in June 2015
8. 8:14 by Chad Hundeby, USA, CM in September 1993
10. 8:20 by Gemma Jensen, Australia, CM in August 2006
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