The team is in place, most of the equipment is in hand, the Mayor is tweeting for her – Benoit is basically ready to swim across Lake Ontario.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 13, 2012  The pint sized lady who is going to swim Lake Ontario from Port Dalhousie to Burlington this Friday and Saturday, is at that frenzied stage;  trying to get it to that “it’s all together now” stage.  Michele Benoit isn’t there yet.

The hard, day in day out training is behind her – if she isn’t in top shape physically now – she never will be. Her mental condition will be known by this swimmer the moment she slips into the water.

She could use someone with a Zodiac for the trip that will last at least 20 hours.  She has one – she would like a second one.    By the end of the week she will have all the pieces in place and slip into the water Friday evening and begin the solid stroke after stroke that will get her from there to here.

That pixie look hides a very determined woman who has decided to take on Lake Ontario

Making this happen has not been an easy task.  The swim is badly under-funded.  It has had to scrimp and scrape to get the equipment and people needed to make this happen.  But bit by bit – the pieces are falling into place and Benoit continues her daily swims and exercise routines.

Mayor Goldring has been tweeting his audience about the event.  The city is getting ready to set up a small tent to receive Benoit when she comes ashore sometime Saturday afternoon.  The special entrance being put in place to get to the “instant beach” formed on the west side of the under construction pier was moved up in the schedule so Benoit could land there.

They are still working out just where the people who are going to be at Port Dalhousie with her will park their cars once someone brings them back to Burlington.

Stephen Turner is part of the crew serving as the paramedic.  Billy Johnson and Joe Atikian will drive the boats. Christine Arsenault is her swim master.   Colleen Shields is one of the pacers as well as a boat driver.

You swim across a lake by putting one arm in the water after the other – with a Lake Ontario swim – you can be doing that for as much as 24 hours. That`s the battle between Michele Benoit and Lake O

As Benoit strokes toward shore there will be a large crowd of people out on the Beachway Park building sand castles and when the word gets to them – they may walk to the other end of the Park and be on hand to greet this unbelievably committed young lady who has been doing media interviews that range from the French CBC radio station to a handful of small Christian based radio program and an interview on 100 Huntley Street.

Benoit brings a strong Christian commitment to the swim – it is not something she is doing just to get her name on a list of people who have swum across the lake.  The swim is the first step in a planned approach to raise funds for an organization that helps people in Africa get fresh water.

Benoit will tell you all you ever want to know about the plight of people in a number of African countries where fresh water – something we take for granted – is a precious and at times hard to come by commodity.

Waves for Water is the charity all this swimming is being done for.  Once the swim is completed – and there is absolutely no doubt in Benoit’s mind that she will complete the swim – in record time?  That’s not something she can tell you.  Everything depends on the weather.  High winds will mean large waves and that means more time – but for Benoit –well she will face what she is given.

Her team is in place – for the most part.  Her Mom and Dad is going to be there as is her sister, niece and nephew, who will handle the land side communications.

Her feeders are in place – these are the people that will get nutrients to her from a cup at the end of a pole.  Matt Smith heads up that task as well as being the crossing coach.   Deborah Arsenault is the nutritionist preparing the feed. Her pacers will be aboard one of the accompanying craft.  During the swim various pacers will be in the water with her to help her keep a steady arm over arm stroke.

It`s a cold forbidding body of water that Benoit will slip into next Friday night. She believes that she is up to the challenge.

Doug Hawksworth will be out there with his sailboat along with members of the family, Chelsea and Candice and Brett White  helping out.

Sue Reed is her crossing manager. Miguel Vadillo will help with the pacing as well as driving the boat which has to have huge lights on it at night so that Benoit is never out of sight.

Geoff Farrow will also pace and drive the boat.

Jessie Douglas will be along as the photographer.

Michael Shaen and sister Kim are land co-ordinators.

Chris Chriswick, Bud Seawright, Nigel Reed and Branko Dren will be part of the crew on the landside of things.

There is a team meeting on Tuesday – the last one before the pace changes and Michele Benoit prepares herself for the challenge – the awesome struggle between her and what she calls Lake O.



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