Campus News

Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338

News Release

August 16, 2004

U of G student to join mom in swim across Lake Ontario

University of Guelph student and competitive swimmer Jana Lumsdon is a bit intimidated by the saying: “Like mother, like daughter.”

Her mother is Kim Lumsdon, who, in 1976 at the age of 19, was the 11th person to swim across Lake Ontario. “If you look at my accomplishments next to hers, I don’t think I quite measure up,” said Jana Lumsdon, who swam the 400- and 800-metre freestyle for the Gryphons last year.

“But I still have years ahead of me, so who knows? Maybe one day I will cross that big old lake and start a family tradition or something.”

She will get a trial run Aug. 20 when Kim Lumsdon, now 47, will try to repeat her 1976 feat and become the oldest woman to swim across Lake Ontario. She plans to start out from the Niagara River in the early evening and swim through the night. Twenty-year-old Jana Lumsdon will swim alongside her mother much of the way.

“I’ll join her just after the start, get out when it gets dark, then rejoin her in the morning,” said Jana Lumsdon, explaining that pacers — the people who will swim alongside her mother in shifts — are prohibited from swimming at night.

During the night, Jana Lumsdon, a certified lifeguard, plans to keep a close eye on her mom aboard a restored antique boat, The Irish Queen. The same vessel also accompanied Marilyn Bell in 1954 when she became the first person to swim across Lake Ontario.

“The entire swim will take between 20 and 30 hours, depending on waves and weather,” Jana Lumsdon said. In 1976, Kim Lumsdon made it across the lake in 21 hours and 27 minutes, and she hopes to meet or beat that time.

“My mom is probably one of the most courageous, mentally strong and physically strong women I know,” Jana Lumsdon said. “She may be a little crazy for doing this, but you have to be a bit nuts to say: ‘I think I’ll swim 52 kilometres straight for the second time, ya know, for fun.’ How many people say that not once but twice?”

Like her mother — who started swimming at age nine under the watchful eye of her father, the late world-class swimmer Cliff Lumsdon — Jana Lumsdon took up competitive swimming early on. “I was seven. At that age, I wasn’t really aware of what my family’s history was in the sport. I guess you could say it was just natural. It was in my blood.”

While she was growing up, competitive swimming was a regular part of life. “It was daily routine to come home from school, eat dinner, then get dropped off at the pool with my sisters while our mom headed to a master’s swim practice of her own.”

These days, her sisters, Sasha, 22, and Natasha, 17, have found other passions. Sasha is an artist, and Natasha is focused on music and dance. But both plan on being a part of the Aug. 20 adventure. Natasha will kayak alongside her mother, and Sasha organized the 28-person pacers crew.

“Hopefully, I’ll be swimming much of the day,” Jana Lumsdon said. “I have done open-water distance swims before, but not as long as this one, and I’ve never competed or paced in a major event with my mom. Mentally, this swim will be extremely tiring, even more than the physical aspects.”

After the big day, she plans to take a year off to work as a lifeguard in Australia and travel before returning to U of G to study marine biology. But for now, her thoughts are on the lake and her mother.

“When it comes down to it, she is the boss on this swim. I want to be there for her as much as possible, but I’ll get out of the water if she tells me to.”

For media questions, contact Communications and Public Affairs: Lori Bona Hunt (519) 824-4120, Ext. 53338, or Rachelle Cooper, (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982.

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