30 years of swimming for charity

Four celebrity swimmers will join the 30th anniversary Carl Oake Swimathon on February 12

Peterborough real estate broker and Rotary Club member Carl Oake has been swimming for charity since 1987 (photo: Peterborough Rotary Club / Facebook)
Peterborough real estate broker and Rotary Club member Carl Oake has been swimming for charity since 1987 (photo: Peterborough Rotary Club / Facebook)

Four women who have swum across Lake Ontario — Marilyn Bell, Vicki Keith, Annaleise Carr, and Trinity Arsenault — will be joining the 30th anniversary of the Carl Oake Swimathon on Friday, February 12th at the Peterborough YMCA.

Now 70 years old, Carl Oake swam his first lengths in the pool at the former YMCA building at George and Murray Streets in 1987, raising $4,000 for Easter Seals.

Through the annual swimathon, the well-known Peterborough real estate broker and Rotary member has since helped raise more than $950,000 for Rotary projects and Easter Seals.

This year, the swimathon’s goal is to have 45 teams participating and to raise $55,000. Awards will be given to the top team fundraiser, the top individual fundraiser, and the wackiest-dressed team.

If you want to register a team and start fundraising, call Kayla Shannick at Century 21 at 705-743-4444 or email kayla.shannick@century21.ca. You can also donate directly online at www.canadahelps.org.

To help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the swimathon, three generations of famous Canadian female swimmers will be joining Carl Oake to swim lengths of the YMCA pool: Marilyn Bell, Vicki Keith, Annaleise Carr, and Trinity Arsenault.

There’ll also be a “meet and greet” with Marilyn Bell — the first person to swim across Lake Ontario — on Thursday, February 11th from 2 to 3 p.m. at the Royal Gardens Retirement Residence (1160 Clonsilla Ave., Peterborough). Bell will deliver a 15-minute talk followed by a question-and-answer session.

Carl Oake with Annaleise Carr during the 2013 swimathon (photo: Stephen Vass)
Carl Oake with Annaleise Carr during the 2013 swimathon (photo: Stephen Vass)

Marilyn Bell

Marilyn Bell swimming across Lake Ontario in 1954 (photo Canada's Sports Hall of Fame)
Marilyn Bell swimming across Lake Ontario in 1954 (photo Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame)
Marilyn Bell became the first person to ever swim across Lake Ontario at the age of 16 in September 1954.

The Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) had offered American marathon swimmer Florence Chadwick $10,000 to swim across the lake as a publicity stunt. When Bell found out about the event, she volunteered to swim across the lake and swam 64 kilometres in 20 hours and 59 minutes, becoming an instant sports celebrity.

The following year, she also became the youngest person to swim across the English Channel, completing that swim in 14 hours and 36 minutes.


Vicki Keith

Vicki Keith
Vicki Keith
Vicki Keith is one of Canada’s most celebrated marathon swimmers, with 16 world records including the first double crossing of Lake Ontario, the first crossing of all five Great Lakes (in a two-month period), and the first butterfly swim across the English Channel.

Although she retired from marathon swimming in 1991, Keith continues to raise awareness and funds for programs and projects to help children with physical disabilities, raising over $1 million, and makes public appearances as an inspirational speaker.

In September 1988, Toronto Mayor Art Eggleton presents Vicki Keith with a plaque announcing that day as Vicki Keith Day
In September 1988, Toronto Mayor Art Eggleton presents Vicki Keith with a plaque announcing that day as Vicki Keith Day

Annaleise Carr and Trinity Arsenault

Annaleise Carr (photo: CNW Group/Norfolk County)
Annaleise Carr (photo: CNW Group/Norfolk County)
In 2012, 14-year-old Annaleise Carr became the youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario, since Bell’s 1954 swim. In 2014, Carr also swam across Lake Erie.

Trinity Arsenault
Trinity Arsenault
Inspired by Carr’s swim across Lake Ontario, Trinity Arsenault did the same in 2014.

A few months younger than Carr at the time of her swim, Arsenault now holds the record as the youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario.


For updates on the 30th anniversary swimathon, follow the Peterborough Rotary Club on Twitter @ptborotary and like them on Facebook.

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