Madhu Nagaraja reached his goal of swimming across Lake Ontario on Sunday, hours after injury ended another swimmer’s dream of completing the same feat.
Nagaraja arrived at Coronation Park in Oakville, only a few blocks away from his home, at 9:37 p.m.
He overcame fatigue and strong overnight winds to complete what is considered one of the three toughest swims in the world. According to the Lake Ontario Swim Team, he’s the 50th person to make the crossing.
About 150 of Nagaraja’s friends and family members cheered for him when he touched shore, friend and land crew member Doug Harrison said.
“He’s got a strong will. He sets a goal and he does it.”
Nagaraja and a boat of 12 crew members left Port Dalhousie at 9:08 p.m. on Saturday.
Among his companions were a coach, navigator, doctor and three pacers who took turns swimming with him and offering encouragement.
Earlier Sunday, 42-year-old François Hamel abandoned his swim across Lake Ontario after injuring his left shoulder.
When the aviation instructor could not lift his left arm out of the water to complete each stroke, he knew something was wrong. A discussion with his coach convinced him to pull out.
“He is doing fine,” said Katherine Czok. “He feels he made the right decision … had he gone longer he could have seriously injured himself.”
Czok works with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Hamel had dedicated his 52-km swim to the cause, raising $12,000.
Hamel and Nagaraja are two of seven swimmers aged between 14 and 60 attempting to swim across Lake Ontario this summer.
Knowing how much work it is to plan a swim across the lake, Nagaraja’s team was cheering on Hamel and felt bad when he withdrew, Harrison said.
Nagaraja spent 10 months training for the Lake Ontario challenge. In 2004, he crossed the English Channel in 12 hours and 31 minutes.
“He’s a very accomplished adventurer if you take a look at what’s he done in his life,” Harrison said.