Professor Loren King swims across Lake Ontario

Contributed image
Contributed image

A political science professor at Wilfrid Laurier University has completed his journey of swimming from Queen’s Royal Park in Niagara-on-the-Lake, to Marilyn Bell Park in Toronto.

Loren King, who began his marathon across Lake Ontario on the evening of August 1 and finished the next day at 3:13 p.m., swam 52 kilometres in support of the Great Lakes Trust.

The Trust is in partnership with Lake Ontario Waterkeeper and the Hamilton Community Foundation and offers yearly grants to sustain Canada’s Great Lakes.

Their goal is to establish an endowment, or a forever fund, which will help support charities and organizations who are defending the Great Lakes.

Along with the swim, King and his friends are aiming to raise more money through various other projects.

One of the projects is currently taking place at McMaster University, where students developed a cost-effective technology to use for real-time, rapid response water monitoring that will generate data in water samples.

“It’s relevant data on the quality of our waterways and watersheds and that data will be public so we can use it to create far more detailed networks of real time data on water quality and water shed and dynamic,” said King.

When you’re swimming, you’re really not thinking straight, you’re just focusing on the swim.

-Loren King, political science professor at Laurier

King hopes these kinds of projects will generate grant opportunities that can help fundraise for the Great Lakes Trust.

“We have a series of integrated projects like that over the next year that we’re very excited about. Now that’s the swim’s over, I think we can use that to get  some broader publicity for those kinds of community engagement and student engagement like projects.”

While King succeeded in swimming across Lake Ontario, he said he couldn’t have done it without the help of his crew. Throughout his journey, King had three points of contact between himself and his crew—to remove glow sticks from his swimsuit, to spray sunscreen and later to apply Vaseline. While most swimmers hope to complete their journey without any assistance, King acknowledged his crew for their help and support.

“You need people around to make those calls for you because when you’re swimming, you’re really not thinking straight, you’re just focusing on the swim.”

Although King originally hoped to raise $50,000 for the Great Lakes Trust and for their other projects by the end of August, his current goal is to now raise at least $25,000 by March 2017.

“I think we can really start this fund off with a great endowment so there’d be raised money for these kinds of projects right off the bat,” he said.

Rather than ridicule people for what they have done wrong to the environment, King hopes the swim will highlight the more positive things people have done locally for the Great Lakes.

“I wanted this to be part of a positive vision of, ‘yes we are doing a lot of things wrong, but we’re also doing some things right,’” said King.

“The things we can do, small steps to make the Great Lakes a lot better, some of those things we’ve been doing for the past 10, 20 years. The Lakes are certainly much better than they were when I was a kid.”

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