• Nick Zacharias

Swim-a-thon for COVID-19


PHOTO COURTESY HUDSON YACHT CLUB

The wide cool expanse of water beckoned at the HYC pool last week as kids (including Lauren Dugas, above), adults and lifeguards alike swam a combined distance of almost 72 kilometres in the COVID-19 swim-a-thon.

Staff and members at the Hudson Yacht Club (HYC) pool in Hudson, having enjoyed a fun if slightly more regimented summer due to COVID-19, decided to give back and help in the ongoing struggle against the novel virus. They came up with a swim-a-thon to raise money for the COVID-19 fund at the Jewish General Hospital who are really on the front line of testing and treatment in Montreal, an area much harder hit by the virus than remote Hudson.

Noon to midnight

The setup was to divide the pool into two large lanes, one for lifeguards and one for members, the challenge being to see which side could complete the most laps of the pool during a marathon noon to midnight swim on Thursday, August 19. Eleven lifeguards and about 50 members, the vast majority of them juniors, dove head-first into the challenge and donated generously at the same time.

“It was so exciting to see everyone coming together to work for a good cause,” said veteran lifeguard Jordan Townsend.

Lifeguards and members entered the pool side by side (one per lane at a time) to swim their hearts out in 15-minute blocks, counting how many laps they could complete in a race against the clock before the next in line dove in. Registrations for each time block were done ahead of time to make sure the deck never got crowded and everyone stayed safe while swimming for the cause.

Lifeguards by a nose

In total, the members swam 1,420 laps of the pool and the staff pulled just ahead with an impressive 1,453 laps – quite a feat for the 11 lifeguards who took the plunge (so you don’t have to run for your calculator, that’s an average of 132 laps each for the intrepid lifeguards). In the end though, it wasn’t so much about the competition as it was about camaraderie and raising money to fill an urgent need.

“It was super fun for everyone, and it felt good to see so many kids pitching in,” said Townsend, “everyone worked really hard – we’re so proud of them.” From trained distance swimmers to children who struggled with a smile to squeeze out a handful of hard-fought laps, everyone did their best.

Impressive numbers

By the numbers, staff and members together swam 71,825 metres, or roughly 72 kilometres. For reference, that’s the nautical equivalent of swimming from Hudson down the Ottawa river, through Lake Saint-Louis and along the Saint Lawrence as far as the Lafontaine bridge at Boucherville. Or, as touted in a message from HYC, the horizontal equivalent of climbing Mount Everest eight times.

Through all of those strokes they managed to raise close to $1,100 that will be donated to the Montreal Jewish General Hospital COVID-19 fund.

Worth repeating

It wasn’t the first or the last time for an event like this at HYC. They were inspired by the 50-Mile Long Distance Marathon Swim created by member (and later Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association President) Glenn Ruiter in 1963. That event brought together HYC members to swim 4,400 laps overnight from 8 pm into the following morning. Fifty-seven years later, Ruiter swam in the 2020 version as well.

Since this year’s event was such a success, HYC staff sent out a warm thanks to parents, kids and all the members involved, promising, “This event is one that will definitely be on the books for next summer!”

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