Cottage Life

In it for the LONG crawl

To swim OR NOT to swim was never really a question. It was the audacity of the idea that evolved slowly, a project so consuming that the cottagers planned the finish with military precision. As it turned out, the finish didn’t exactly happen as planned.

But let’s start at the beginning. The location: Crane Lake, about 15 km south of Parry Sound, Ont. Deep, dark, and clean and surrounded by thick pine forest, half of it Crown land, it’s the last lake in a series that flows down the Blackstone River into Georgian Bay. The characters: a core group of about 10 cottagers, now mostly retired and looking for a project. The plan: an epic swim, covering 45 km.

“We’d already swum the length of the lake,” Monica Gemein-hardt explains, and someone came up with the idea of swimming around the lake. They decided to take it easy, in stages, recording their route along the lake’s shoreline on a map and marking off each section of the perimeter as they completed it. At first, there was no hurry, no deadline. (That came later.) “We all like to swim. We were doing long swims anyway. We just had to make it official.”

Not that an “official” swim at the cottage is unusual. The day a child or grandchild makes it across open water to a special rock or other landmark is a right of passage, a cause for celebration.

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