As Annaleise Carr touched the wall at Marilyn Bell Park shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday, she became the youngest girl ever to swim the 52-kilometre crossing from Niagara-on-the-Lake.
She made the crossing in just under 27 hours.
Carr embarked on the swim to raise money for Camp Trillium — a summer camp for children with cancer. She entered the water Saturday around 6:15 p.m.
Natalie Lambert, of Syndenham, Ont., was also 14 when she successfully crossed Lake Ontario from Sackets Harbour, N.Y., to Confederation Basin in Kingston in 2007.
Carr began with a goal of raising $30,000 for Camp Trillium but exceeded that last week. She then set a new goal of $50,000.
This goal was exceeded Sunday while she was swimming, buoyed by a single donation of $10,000. Cheers rang out from the fleet of boats, sending her a wave of inspiration. She has now raised more than $80,000.
The motivation was much needed — Saturday night brought high winds and swells of more than a metre. A passing ship stirred up cold water and errant sail boats skated through the flotilla.
But Carr persevered.
“She isn’t showing any signs of distress,” coach Lisa Anderson said Sunday, as a determined Carr carried on. Anderson watched Carr around the clock, performing alterations to her form and ensuring she ate and remained focused.
The teen, from Walsh, Ont., a hamlet in Norfolk County, was given food and water every hour. The water was delivered by tethered bottles and the food passed using a lacrosse stick. Based on the rules set by Solo Swim Ontario, she was not allowed to touch any boat throughout the swim.
Overnight a blue light on her head bobbed up and down through fierce winds and tumbling surf. She made slow progress, but kept steady on her path under conditions that made travel difficult even for the boats accompanying her.
She didn’t come away from the night unscathed — her pace was much slower during the early morning hours.
Carr rallied in the late morning as the sun warmed the water and winds calmed. Pace swimmers also increased the motivation by swimming beside Carr.
Her running trainer and pace swimmer Scot Brockbank praised her skill in the water.
“She races hard,” he said before getting into the water alongside her.
Carr got a last-minute boost from boat co-ordinator Dave Scott when there was just 13 kilometres left in the swim.
“Back home there’s a swim we do,” he said. “I told her that’s all that’s left so she picked up the pace considerably.”
Her last leg was met with a mild north wind and current — both working with her, but she was visibly exhausted from the swim.
Donations to support Camp Trillium can be made through the website raiseathon.ca/arc/