History | Norfolk teen sets record | Back

Annaleise: youngest ever
by John Cardiff

Pity the grade 9 classmate who tries to top this in a "How I Spent My Summer Vacation" English composition next month...

Annaleise Carr, 14, of Walsh, Norfolk County, became the youngest person to ever swim across Lake Ontario Sunday 19 Aug 2012, when she ended her 26-hour, 52-km swim from Niagara-on-the-Lake, coming ashore in Toronto at Marilyn Bell Park just before 9 p.m.

The diminutive veteran open-water swim competitor had plenty of company during her crossing. Tagging along in Zodiacs, sailboats and kayaks were the two dozen Annaleise calls her "marine support team," including her swim coach Lisa Anderson, her doctor Mark Ghesquiere, a physiotherapist, pace swimmers, and a swim master from the organization that oversees open-water long-distance swims, Solo Swims of Ontario. 

Her parents, Jeff and Debbie Carr, were waiting at Marilyn Bell Park. So were the media, her ground support team, and a crowd of hundreds, many of whom had followed her swim progress online. Ditto an ambulance that whisked her to hospital for Solo Swims of Ontario's protocol check-up.

Annaleise swam to raise money for Waterford's Camp Trillium, a retreat for children with cancer. Her original goal of $30,ooo is already toast. Donations exceeded $80,000 before she touched the wall in Toronto -- and were still coming in. 

At Annaleise's press conference on the lawn of the Erie Beach Hotel in Port Dover the next afternoon, Camp Trillium announced they had received over $115,000 -- and donations were still coming in. 

Although donations are still welcome and coming, we quit counting once they topped $136,000 a couple of days later.

After meeting kids at Camp Trillium last year, Annaleise wanted to volunteer at the camp, but was under their 18-year minimum age. So she decided to raise funds for the charity via this swim instead.

To put Annaleise's accomplishment in perspective, she has raised enough to send more than 115 very sick kids to the year-round camp for a week. 

Perhaps more importantly, the one dubbed Mighty Mite has put Camp Trillium on a lot of potential donors' radar screens for future giving. That alone is a major accomplishment for any volunteer.

Norfolk County will celebrate Annaleise's accomplishments with a parade through downtown Simcoe on Labour Day.

Toronto's Marilyn Bell Park is named after Annaleise's role model, the then 16 year old girl who first swam across Lake Ontario in 1954. 

External Links:
Annaleise's Lake Ontario crossing
Camp Trillium

Annaleise Carr