"I feel the most joy when I can climb into a lake and find a comfortable pace and just swim.
I feel like I can swim forever."
On 19th July 2006, at the age of 15 years 153 days, Harrowsmith's Jenna Lambert became the first female swimmer with a physical disability (SWAD) to swim across Lake Ontario. Due to Cerebral Palsy, Jenna was unable to use her legs for propulsion in the water or to stand freely on land.
In the face of strong winds up to 8 knots and waves up to 1.5 m for the first 6 hours, she completed the 34 kilometres from Baird Point, New York to Lake Ontario Park in Kingston in 32:18. .
The swim, which was predicted to take 24 hours, was extended when Jenna faced strong winds, and waves that pushed directly against her for the majority of the swim.
Throughout the swim, Jenna showed no stomach problems and fed consistently every hour on a range of items that included Boost, water, fruit, granola bars, and chicken noodle soup.
Jenna's morale-boosting pacers during the swim were her thirteen-year-old sister Natalie (See top-left above with Jenna), an accomplished swimmer herself, and her Coach, Vicki Keith.
Her time of 32:18 also earned Jenna entry into the 24-hour club, to join her coach, Vicki Keith, and Swim Master, John Munro.
Jenna conducted her swim to raise money to build a new swimming pool for disabled persons in her native Kingston, Ontario. The resultant $210,000 were an important element in the completion of the pool which is now in use by the Kingston Y Penguins (a swim team for children with physical disabilities and their siblings), as well as by other YMCA participants.
More complete stories of Jenna's activities are posted on the Kingston YMCA Penguins Can Fly website.
In 2009, Jenna completed a one-woman ultra-triathlon in an effort to raise further awareness for the Y Knot Abilities Programs. This was a 270 km journey which took her from Belleville to Ottawa in 48 hours and 17 minutes. Divided into three parts, the adventure was Swim (30 km), Hand-Cycle (230 km), and Wheel in a manual wheelchair (10 km).
As a further display of her varied talents, Jenna was honoured to sing the Canadian National Anthem at The Opening Ceremonies for the Kingston 2010 Ontario ParaSport Winter Games, held at the Kingston Military Community Sports Centre.
Her main swimming focus in 2010-11, was back in the pool. During that time, she completed her first year in communications and psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, and raced for the school's varsity team. The highlight of her swimming during this period was being selected to swim for Canada in the Para Pan-American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2011.
Holy froshsicle sticks, and a lolipop ! Jenna's exuberance and enthusiasm is best seen in her 7:37, motivational Swim Ontario, Off The Deck, video that recalls her 2011 ParaPan experience, where she placed 8th in the 100 m Breast, 100 Free, and 100 Back, and 10th in the 50 m Free.
While Jenna had set her competitive sights HIGH to make it onto Canada's Paralympic swim team for London 2012, it was to be a goal that eluded her . . . but you can be sure that it wasn't for a lack of trying !
Swim Master: John Munro
Swim Manager: Ron Lambert
Coach: Vicki Keith
Compiled with materials provided by the Swim Master Report, Swim Ontario, Internet articles, and the web-site Penguins Can Fly
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Created: 10th May 2013
Updated: 23rd May 2013