Great Lakes, ON - Madhu Nagaraja

My Watermark is The Great Lakes.

I first swam in Lake Ontario in 2005. It was here swimming many, many miles at Coronation Park Beach in Oakville that I was able to build a community. While I have a strong connection to Coronation Park Beach my Watermark has evolved to include all of the Great Lakes.

In 2016 I was part of a group that swam one mile in each of the Great Lakes in less than 24 hours. It was an amazing experience. Our first swim was at 4 am at Brimley State Park in Lake Superior. I remember clearly the sky was full of stars and it was sunrise when we swam from Mackinac Bridge on Lake Michigan. People who live near the Great Lakes think that they’re dirty but this place could have been somewhere on a tropical island, it was so beautiful. Now that we know that the Great Lakes have one coastline, I was able to experience and connect with all of it over the course of that swim.

I have been lucky enough to swim all over the world, San Francisco Bay, the English Channel, the Straits of Magellan, and lately the Bering Strait has been haunting me. But there are weird moments when I’m going about my day or sitting on the GO Train when I think about all the beautiful spots we swam in that 24 hours, it was a wonderful experience.

I first learned about the Great Lakes when I was in Grade 5 in India and now I find myself very much part of them; as a founding member of the Great Lakes Trust and Great Lakes Open Water Swimming (GLOW Swimming) as a Swim Drink Fish Ambassador and as a swimmer. It disappoints me that with all our education and knowledge we are still having to think about protecting them.

I now have a group that does “Sunriser Swims” at Coronation Park Beach. To those that do think the Great Lakes are dirty: think about the experience of starting your day with a burst of energy, stealing the time to yourself for the fantastic experience of being part of the lake at sunrise while rest of the world is asleep.

The Great Lakes are so important and we need to protect them so that we can continue to experience them and let future generations enjoy them.

Great Lakes, ON
Jessica Gordon
Madhu Nagaraja

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