The first swimmer to conquer Lake Ontario this year arrived ashore in Toronto early Wednesday morning – and shattered a nearly 50-year-old record in the process.
Maggie Regan, a 31-year-old mathematics professor in Massachusetts, finished in 14 hours and eight minutes, making her the fastest female ever to complete the swim.
She broke Cindy Nicholas' 1974 mark of 15 hours 10 minutes by almost an hour.
The 51-kilometre Lake Ontario crossing starts at Queen's Royal Beach in Niagara-on-the-Lake and ends at Marilyn Bell Park in Toronto.
It is the longest swim Regan has ever done.
Minutes before her swim started, Regan's swim coach Christine Arsenault was covering the swimmer in a layer of Vaseline to help insulate her from the cold lake temperatures and keep the sun off her back.
Arsenault said she met the marathon swimmer in Dover, England, in 2016 when Regan was participating in a relay to cross the 33-kilometre English Channel.
Regan reached out to her in October to help her train for the crossing of Lake Ontario.
She told The Lake Report she swam competitively as a child and got into triathlons and open-water swims in university.
“I swim for myself and that’s it,” Regan said, adding it helps her deal with stressful days.
Two swimmers attempted to cross the Lake earlier in August, but had to quit after getting battered by the currents near Toronto.
Regan said she wasn’t going to think about the possibility of failure.
Arsenault said the swim started in good weather conditions.
The sun was bright and the water was above 21C when Regan hopped into the water Tuesday at 2 p.m.
When she crossed the English Channel, the hardest part was swimming in the dark.
“Jumping off of a boat in the middle of pitch black darkness where the only thing you can see is the light off the back of the boat is a little unnerving,” she said.
But this time, she and Arsenault agreed the biggest challenge was to ensure Regan got enough to eat while in the water.
Arsenault, also a marathon swimmer, said that when she crossed the lake it took her about a week to fully recover.
Evan Loree, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Lake Report