On 23 July 1994, Carlos Costa became the first physically-challenged person to swim across Lake Ontario. His crossing from Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Leslie Street Spit took a grueling 32 hours 43 minutes and was prolonged to this extent by head winds which he encountered for several hours shortly after the start.
The jubilant finish is shown in the photograph at the right, as he is supported by his coach Vicki Keith and her husband John Munro.
Carlos at 20-years-old was a bilateral, above-knee, amputee from North York, Ontario and was a third-year student at Humber College. He was born with the bones missing from below his knees and, at age 2, his legs were amputated to enable him to be fitted with prosthetic limbs. Able to walk easily and ride a bicycle, he has accomplished more with his physical challenge than most able-bodied people.
Carlos had made previous attempts in 1992 on the 10th August and the 6th September, completing 38 km and 26 km respectively. The first attempt had to be abandoned after about 12 hours because of fierce thunderstorms, and the second was terminated when he entered extremely cold waters off Toronto.
A year after his successful crossing of Lake Ontario, Carlos became the fourth Canadian to cross the Catalina Channel (#76). On 7th November 1994, he crossed from Catalina Island to the mainland in 15:03:02.
In 1994, Carlos was awarded by Swim Ontario, in his absence, the Cliff Lumsdon Award of SSO in recognition of his significant achievements in marathon swimming.
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Ontario Aquatic Hall of Fame
Created: 1st October 2000
Last Updated: 26th February 2013