Defeated Lake Ontario swimmers still hope to finish historic crossing
Daniel Reid, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, July 30, 2013 10:17AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, July 30, 2013 11:34AM EDT
After pulling their cold and exhausted bodies out of the frigid waters of Lake Ontario on Saturday, five Ontario women attempting to make history by swimming the length of the lake had to admit defeat.
Five days of near-constant swimming in harsh conditions had taken its toll on the experienced long-distance relay swimmers, forcing them to call it quits 63 kilometres short of their destination. And when they were on dry land, they vowed to never again attempt the journey.
Well, never say never, they say.
“We’re very determined women, and we’re not finished,” swimmer Colleen Shields told CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday.
Although the team still needs to get one member on board, Shields said they fully intend to finish the final stretch from Whitby, Ont. to Burlington sometime in the near future.
“Although our swim ended, for us, it didn’t end where we wanted it to end,” Nicole Mallette said. “We need to complete it.
“Something’s inside of us that says we’re not done.”
With time to reflect, the team decided they had learned a lot from the experience.
“That I actually have the strength to continue on in extreme conditions,” Shields said. “I know that I was able to continue because we were a team.”
After leaving Kingston on July 23, the swimmers faced storms, chilly water and crashing waves for the duration of their journey. The conditions got so bad at one point that their swim was delayed by a day.
Conditions improved on Thursday when the sun returned and the lake calmed down, but then water temperatures dropped again as they approached Toronto.
In the end, it was all too much for the swimmers, who decided to end their attempt after 18-year-old Mona Sharari was taken to hospital with symptoms of hypothermia.
“We made the decision and when the decision was made, we bawled our eyes out,” Mallette said. “We had a good half an hour cry, everybody.”
The team is still hoping to raise $300,000 for the ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign, which promotes gender equality, girls’ rights and anti-poverty initiatives around the world.
You can contribute to their goal by visiting their fundraising page.