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Friday, July 12, 2024
Seven swimmers set to challenge Lake Ontario this year
Shaun Chisholm completed a successful crossing of Lake Ontario in 2008. TONY CHISHOLM

Tony Chisholm
Special to The Lake Report

People keep asking, “Who is planning to swim Lake Ontario this year?”

It appears the 2024 lineup of potential swimmers is quite extensive. Only a few swimmers challenged the lake during the COVID period and the numbers have been slow to rise since.

But this year the lineup of aspirants includes at least seven swimmers, the most we’ve seen in a long time.

Almost all of the planned routes are from Queen’s Royal Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake to Marilyn Bell Park on the Toronto waterfront.

All the swimmers will start between July 15 and Aug. 25, though they all have alternate dates if the weather doesn’t co-operate. 

The distance is 52 kilometres and the route is one of the toughest in marathon swimming. Bad weather could mean contrary winds, steep waves, thunderstorms, cold water and strong currents. 

My son Shaun, who crossed the lake in 2008, has a saying: No matter how well-trained you are, the weather and the lake are really in charge.

This is one of the toughest marathon swims in the world. 

So, who are the swimmers sanctioned to take on the lake this year?

Jessi Harewicz, between July 9 and 15: She is from Vancouver and is an accomplished swimmer. She has completed 16 marathon swims, including the Manhattan circumnavigation (uurgh!), the North Channel from Ireland to Scotland and the English Channel. Her longest swim was 58K from Nanaimo to Kitsilano Beach. Harewicz is 41 and will be the first to leave the friendly beach in NOTL this year. Good luck, Jessi.

Kim Lumsdon, July 20 to July 30: She first swam the lake successfully in — get this — 1976 at age 19. Her father was Cliff Lumsdon, one of the great marathon swim coaches. She has had a successful swimming career and received a special achievement award from the province of Ontario in recognition of her contributions to amateur sport. Lumsdon is aiming to be the oldest person to swim the lake at 67. Go Kim.

Greg Maitinsky, July 27 to 31: Another accomplished Canadian swimmer, Maitinsky is from Hamilton. He swam the lake in 2022 in a near record time of 16 hours and 16 minutes. He’s strong and very quick for 48 years of age.

Colleen Shields, July 29 to Aug. 2: has successfully crossed the lake three times since 1990. She holds the record for the oldest Canadian swimmer and has received awards for her service to the Solo Swims of Ontario organization.

Three other swimmers are due to challenge the lake in August.

They are: Maitinsky’s wife, Cinti Cseuz (Aug. 4 to 10), Jason Kloss from Paris, Ont., (Aug. 8 to 11), and Matthew Crawley from Waterloo (Aug. 10 to 17).

Best of luck to all the aspirants, who have trained so hard. 

All swims are carefully controlled and regulated by Solo Swims of Ontario, a non-profit, registered charity formed in 1975 after a fatal accident in an attempt to swim Lake Ontario.

The organization ensures that all solo open water long-distance swims in Ontario adhere to strict safety guidelines. One of its representatives is assigned as the swim master for every crossing attempt and it is their job to establish the swimmer’s competency.

I’m proud to say that my son Shaun is a swim master and will be helping Kloss this summer.

Best of luck to all the swimmers attempting the lake this year.

NOTL resident Tony Chisholm is an adviser to Solo Swims of Ontario.

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