Teen who swam across Lake Ontario ‘didn’t want to give up’
The 14-year-old Ontario girl who became the youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario this weekend says her resolve to complete the tough trek strengthened each time she received an update on how much money her historic swim was raising for charity.
Addressing reporters Monday for the first time since completing the 52.5-kilometre, 27-hour swim from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto Sunday, Annaleise Carr said she battled high waves while her swimming coach and the rest of the crew paddling alongside encouraged her.
“As I got into the water on Saturday, I just kept thinking about Camp Trillium and what I was doing it for,” Carr said, referring to the charity that offers programs for children with cancer.
“I didn’t want to give up when I thought about how much the kids at Camp Trillium have been through and what they have to go through their entire life.”
When her swimming pacers told her at one point she had raised $50,000 for Camp Trillium, “I swam harder,” Carr said at a news conference Monday in Port Dover, Ont.
When the amount surpassed $90,000, “I knew I couldn’t stop after all those people had donated,” the Walsh, Ont. teen said.
Donations continued to pour in well after Carr emerged from the water Sunday night, shivering but smiling in front of dozens of supporters and journalists who documented her journey.
As of Monday afternoon, Carr’s swim had raised $115,000 – enough to send 115 children with cancer to camp for 10 days, said Fiona Fisher of Camp Trillium.
“Because of Annaleise, we have thousands of new donors,” Fisher said Monday, calling the teenager “a hero.”
Donations are still coming in “every minute,” Fisher added.
Carr first learned of the camp when she took part in a fundraising swim for it last year. She tried to volunteer there, but at 13, was years away from the 18-year-old minimum age requirement.
That's when she came up with the lake-crossing idea.
“I’ve been swimming forever, since I was, like four years old,” Carr said.
But her parents at first did not approve of her plan to swim across the lake.
“It took about a month to convince them,” she said.
Once her parents were on board, an entire team was assembled to help Carr prepare for the swim.
“I couldn’t have done it without all these people,” she said.
Carr also received a message of support from the daughter of the first person to swim across Lake Ontario, Marilyn Bell, who was 16 when she completed the feat in 1954.
"Team Carr" liaison Ross Keegan said earlier Monday the young record-setter is not letting her accomplishment, or the attention it has generated, get to her head.
"She has a heart of gold, she doesn't take any of this as a personal accolade," Keegan said, describing how he's watched Carr "doggedly" pursue her goal in recent months.
"And as the money continues to pour in, she's said it's all about helping each one of these kids go to this camp."