Dozens gathered at a rocky beach in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Ont. on Sunday to support Brenda Lussier’s third attempt at swimming across Lake Ontario. They clapped and cheered as she waded into the water and took her first few strokes.

But the Guelph, Ont. native paid them no mind. Partly because she was focused on getting a good start to a swim that could take 24 hours to complete, but mostly because she’s deaf.

“I want to become the first deaf swimmer who crosses Lake Ontario successfully, and (to) show deaf people they can do it,” she told CTV Kitchener through a sign language interpreter.

She will have to brave large waves and strong winds, but her reason for undertaking the challenging swim is sure to keep her surging forward.

Lussier’s brother was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis about year-and-a-half after he was born. The swim, dubbed the “Silent Swim to Fight Cystic Fibrosis,” has raised money to help find a cure.

One in every 3,600 children in Canada is born with the genetic disease, according to Cystic Fibrosis Canada.

“He has been fighting it his entire life,” Lussier said of her brother.

Silent Swim member Tom Bartlett said the conditions on Sunday are ideal for a successful crossing. He expects those on the boat following Lussier’s progress will help her push through any rough patches.

“It gives you an adrenaline rush that you have people that really care about what you’re doing. I hope she does it,” he said.

Lussier’s final destination is Toronto’s Marilyn Bell Park, which takes its name from another inspirational aquatic athlete. At just 16 years old, Toronto-native Marilyn Bell Park made the 52-kilometre swim across the lake in the 1950s.

“I expect to touch the wall of Toronto’s Marilyn Bell Park,” Lussier said. “It’s been my dream for the longest time.”

Lussier has successfully swam across Lake Erie. She made two previous attempts at Lake Ontario, which were thwarted by injury and difficult conditions.

A video update posted to Facebook by the Silent Swim team at about 7 p.m. local time said Lussier is battling waves as high as 1.5 meters and wind gusts of up to 30 km/h.

With a report from CTV Kitchener