Winter Solstice sunrise swim 2016

A fun way to welcome the sun after the winter solstice, and to keep pushing our vision of the Great Lakes as a continuing source of adventure and inspiration, even watersheds as challenged by industrialization and urbanization as those along the shores of Lakes Erie and Ontario. #SwimDrinkFish along the Oakville Shore at Coronation Park.

screen-shot-2016-12-28-at-8-58-18-pm… and we weren’t alone: the team from the Courage Polar Bear dip were in the lake before us, promoting their amazing efforts for clean water around the world – check them out, and be sure to join their famous polar bear dip on January 1st and support efforts to ensure access to clean water across Africa and the Americas!

A great chat with SwapTalk in Fergus, Ontario

This past week I had the pleasure of chatting with Rob Dutton and McKim Ecclestone on their Tuesday evening show SwapTalk on TheGrand@101FM.

You can listen to some extended excerpts of our conversation here.

Topics include: our recent Lake Ontario crossing, the state of the lakes, and our recent whirlwind tour swimming a mile in each of the Great Lakes in one long day.screen-shot-2016-10-01-at-12-47-29-pm.

Five Miles, Five Great Lakes, One Very Long Day!

So we did it! A mile swum in each of the Great Lakes in one day, starting and finishing in Oakville at Coronation Park on the lakeshore.

To recap what we were thinking when we planned this day …

There’s a lot we can do for the lakes just with small changes: reducing plastic use, watching what we put down the drains, biking instead of driving to the beach when we can, supporting groups like Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and the Bay Area Restoration Council.

Still, we can fight all the familiar battles – against pollution and shortsighted planning – but if we cannot get people to imagine the lakes as a vital part of their lives, then those other battles are ultimately lost.

A really important thing, then, that’s easy to do, is to get out and have fun on the lakes: make them an essential part of your recreation and inspiration!

So that’s what we did on Friday and Saturday, September 23th and 24th.

We had so many great adventures packed into one long day, but for me the first swim of our whirlwind tour was the most poignant, swimming out into the dark misty waters of Lake Superior, well before sunrise, with dear friends beside me and the milky way shining above us.

I wished there was a camera that could capture that peaceful, captivating beauty: of the starlit mist hanging over the still clear waters and the gentle lapping of swimmers’ strokes. But we didn’t have any camera like that, and besides we were swimming, so I kept thinking of this line in my head instead (because if there were whales in Lake Superior they’d be Julia Donaldson’s and Axel Scheffler’s whale!)


“… she gazed at the sky, the sea, the land, The waves and the caves and the golden sand. She gazed and gazed, amazed by it all, And she said to the whale, ‘I feel so small.’ …”

14484978_10157416425160654_3722873275903673579_nWe finished the (long!) day at Oakville Coronation Park, where a gang of fellow swimmers swam with us out the buoy. All told a fantastic adventure with some extraordinary people!

And if this inspires you to have another Great Lakes adventure of your own, please consider spreading the word to your friends and colleagues about the Great Lakes Trust!

5 Miles, 5 Great Lakes, 1 Day

How can we best protect the Great Lakes?

We know the familiar things that need to be done: conservation (of wildlife, habitats, marshlands, sandbanks), reduction (of pollutants, poorly planned developments), and better regulation and management of our industries, international shipping, our waterfronts and watersheds …

Again, those are familiar struggles, and we have extraordinary people fighting for those things every day: groups like Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, the Bay Area Restoration Council, the Canada Centre for Inland Waters, the Great Lakes Commons, the Great Lakes Observing System, the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, the Great Lakes Environmental Law Center, the Great Lakes Environmental Assessment and Mapping Project… to name just a few!

The Great Lakes Trust is designed to support advocates and researchers, activists and artists, in just these kinds of organizations, funding those small but vital steps to improve our home waters.

All good.

But one of the things we love about Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and their Watermark project project is the importance of our imagination. (The Great Lakes Commons is in tune with this also, as are many others, in their distinctive ways.)

The point is this: we can fight all of the familiar battles, against pollution and shortsighted planning, but if we cannot get people to imagine the lakes as a vital part of their lives, then those other battles are ultimately for naught.

So, what adventures can we have that will help make the Great Lakes a part of our inspiration? a part of the vocabulary we instinctively use when we answer the question: “what nutty adventure do have planned next?”

This Friday and Saturday, a small band of crazy swimmers will bundle into a rented Honda Odyssey, and then we’ll swim a mile in each of the Great Lakes over twenty four hours.

Five Miles, Five Lakes, One Day.

We’re doing it because we love the lakes and because, maybe, small adventures like this one can encourage others to see the vast, wonderful heritage we share in these lakes, and to imagine their own adventures in, on, and around the Lakes.

The more we get out and have fun on the Lakes, the more they become a part of our shared sense of who we are, together. And then, hopefully, we’ll all care even more deeply about tackling the many serious problems we face in sustaining this vital heritage.

5 Miles in 5 Great Lakes in 24 Hours

depart Oakville 09/23 @ 20:00

Lake Superior @ Brimley, Mi 09/24 @ 04:00

Lake Michigan @ Mackinaw City, MI 9/24 @ 06:30

Lake Huron @ Brights Grove, ON 9/24 @ 12:30

Lake Erie @ Port Stanley, ON 9/24 @ 15:00

Lake Ontario @ Oakville, ON 9/24 @ 18:00

Come join us at Oakville Coronation Park this Saturday 09/24 @ 18:00 for a swim or paddle to the buoy and back, to help us finish off this Great Lakes adventure!!

And if this inspires you and your friends to get out and have (another) Great Lakes adventure, then perhaps you could also spread the word about the Great Lakes Trust!