Fourth-year University of Guelph student Corallee Allaert will be attempting a 30-kilometre swim across Lake Erie this weekend to raise awareness for mental health.
In the planning stages since February, the swim is expected to take upwards of 15 hours.
Depending on the weather, Allaert will start the feat at Lotus Point, New York, and end at Crystal Beach in Ontario.
Officially 30.57-kilometres, the route between Lotus Point to Crystal Beach has never been completed before, meaning that once Allaert completes the swim it will be a record-breaking swim.
“I was going through a rough time in my life of not understanding my purpose and struggling to find a sense of reality with what I was going through,” said Allaert, a Moncton native who now lives in Kitchener.
The idea to swim across the Great Lake was suggested by Larry Optis, an elite cyclist who has served as a mentor to Allaert since she was a pre-teen.
“He suggested why don’t you just swim across a Great Lake, and I was looking at him like you’re simply nuts this is impossible and unrealistic to even do,” said Allaert.
But, when Allaert found out it was possible, the duo began to fill out the applications for a sanctioned crossing and sanctioned solo swim.
Allaert said that through talking to Optis he convinced her that this would be a great opportunity to give her something unique and something she can own while allowing for her to take out her anger and frustration in a positive way through swimming.
“He mentioned it and I took it upon myself to actually do the training and get into it,” said Allaert.
In addition to attempting the feat, Allaert will be raising awareness and funds for Jack.org.
A Toronto-based organization founded in 2010, Jack.org trains and empowers young leaders to revolutionize mental health.
Eric Windeler and his wife, Sandra Hanington, founded the organization after their son Jack died by suicide while attending Queen’s University.
“Mental illness is the biggest health-related challenge for young people, and suicide remains the second leading cause of death in young people next to accidents of all kinds,” said Windeler. “It’s a serious issue and affects a lot of young people, and it’s just so important that families like ours don’t get surprised like this.”
Following a traumatic experience in 2019, Allaert said she has been dealing with depression and anxiety.
“At the end of the day this swim is for me and jack.org, but it is for all the other people who struggle and to show them they can be struggling but there is light at the end of the tunnel, you just have to weather that storm to see that light,” said Allaert.
Transferring in early 2020 from the University of New Brunswick, Allaert will enter her fourth year of a B.A.Sc. program at U of G in the fall.
Once she has completed her swim across Lake Erie, she said the next conquest will be tackling Lake Ontario next summer.