The paddleboarders took twice as long to accomplish their mission as they expected while the long-distance swimmer decided that discretion was the better part of valour and will try again in September.
That’s the thumb-nail summary of last Saturday’s fourth-annual Lake Erie Challenge on Long Point Bay.
Geography teacher Daniel Zin was already stretching himself when he agreed to attempt the 30-kilometre swim from the tip of Long Point to Port Dover.
Zin’s longest swim to date is 10 kilometres. However, when his team saw six-foot swells in the middle of the bay Saturday morning, all bets were off. Zin’s coach Josh Reid said the team had some decisions to make after confronting the “washing machine conditions.”
“From the beach in Dover, you wouldn’t know just how rough it was out there,” Reid said in a news release.
“But five kilometres out we were encountering six-foot waves. Our pontoon boat was having a hard time of it so just imagine swimming. The 30-kilometre distance – already three times longer than any distance Dan has swam – would have easily felt like 60 swimming against those waves.”
Veteran paddleboarders Tyler Backus, Jonah Logan and Josh Austin also took on the journey from the tip of Long Point to Port Dover. Their itinerary differed in that they made the trip by way of Pottahawk Island.
The trio was successful, but the trip was an ordeal thanks to strong headwinds. What should’ve taken a leisurely four hours ended up lasting 7.5 hours.
“This was one of the hardest paddles both physically and mentally for any of us because of the conditions,” Backus said. “Glad to say we finished our 35-kilometre paddle in some horrible headwinds.
“It was a grind but quite the experience. We earned our drinks on the patio afterward.”
Zin and his team of six called off the swim after reaching the tip of Long Point Saturday morning. They hope for more favourable conditions when they try again on Sept. 7.
The Lake Erie Challenge is a fundraiser for the Canadian Freshwater Alliance. Funds raised by the endurance event are devoted to clean-up and ecosystem protection initiatives.