LORAIN COUNTY, Ohio — A family of avid swimmers realized a childhood dream of swimming across Lake Erie from Canada to Ohio and raised over $11,000 for a Lorain County non-profit group in the process.
Several members of the Chapple family, along with their neighbors and friends, spent the weekend swimming, relay style, from Point Pelee National Park, near Leamington in Ontario, Canada, to Lorain County.
Meghan Chapple said she and her brothers, Taylor and Kyle, all grew up in Lorain County swimming in Lake Erie and fantasized about one day swimming across the lake from Canada to Ohio. Even though they’ve all grown and moved to different parts of country, they decided to finally realize this childhood dream this year.
They spent the winter planning out the 38-mile trek, deciding to swim in relay-style in two separate heats of swimmers, with support from kayaks and boats the whole way.
In spite of a rocky start Friday night – there was significant lightning hitting the water – the swimmers got up Saturday morning and began the relay swim.
“There were definitely waves and chop, but once you get in the rhythm of it, it’s pretty easy going,” Chapple said.
Each group of swimmers would swim a stretch of the lake before being relieved by the other group, said Stephanee Koscho with LoCo Yaks, the group that helped to organize the event. Two boats came in to relieve the different heats of swimmers.
During the final “lap” – the last stretch of lake before hitting shore in Lorain County – all swimmers from both heats jumped in and swam together, Koscho said.
It took about 28 hours of swim time, but by Sunday evening at about 6 p.m., the swimmers had completed their trek and came ashore in Lorain County. Steven Pallens with "A Shot Above" also captured drone video of the last leg of the swim, which was posted to his Facebook page.
While the swim was a great time for everyone involved, it was also to raise money for a good cause.
Chapple said their family asked around about organizations to get involved with, and were impressed with LoCo Yaks’ mission. The group hosts kayak events, including adaptive paddling, but they also focus on cleaning up Lake Erie and the Black River watershed in northern Ohio. For instance, they organize the annual Black River clean-up event.
The family said they would have been happy if they raised $1,000 from the event. With the help of friends, family and Lorain County community members, they ended up raising over $11,000.
Beyond just the money raised, they hoped the swim would raise awareness about Lake Erie as a place for families to get out on the water, and as a resource that our entire community needs to care for.
Chapple said there are a lot of issues that the lake is facing, but “those are things that can be dealt with in smart ways.”