News / London

Western University student swimming for 'empowerment'

Western University student Samantha Whiteside has one big thing on her mind these days — warm weather.

Unless the sun stays out, the water in Lake Ontario will remain at about 13 C — a tad chilly for Whiteside and four other marathon swimmers planning to take on the lake July 23.

The team will brave a 305 kilometre swim across the Great Lake, starting in Kingston and finishing five days later in Burlington. The journey has been broken into a relay with each swimmer powering through two-hour intervals.

Whiteside, 23, is no stranger to water. She’s been poolside since she turned two-years-old and was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis.

“I did a lot of water therapy, and when I was cured I just started swimming for a team,” said Whiteside.

Since then, the New Hamburg native has completed a number of marathons, many of which were to support the Arthritis Society.

Money raised during the Lake Ontario swim will towards Plan International’s Because I Am a Girl — an initiative dedicated to empowering women through education and solidarity.

Because the Lake Ontario team is all women, the path towards empowerment begins the moment the swimmers hit the water, Whiteside said.

“Each of us has had individual success, and I think this swim is showcasing that individually we’re all strong, but look at what we can accomplish if we come together and work as a team,” she said.

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