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Young swimmer set to battle Erie’s waves

TEENAGER Jade Scognamillo is set to swim across Lake Erie July 12, weather permitting. If she does it, she'll be the youngest ever.

Plying the murky waters of Lake Erie with nothing but a swimsuit and some body grease is insane, right?

So say Jade Scognamillo’s friends and family.

The 14-year-old Vaughan Aquatic Club member is getting set for a 19.2-kilometre, border-crossing swim tomorrow from Sturgeon Point, N.Y. to Crystal Beach, Ont., weather permitting.

If she completes the swim, she’ll enter the record books as the youngest ever to do it.

“They all think I’m crazy,” she said with a laugh after her Monday morning training session. “None of them thought that I’d actually do it. They said, ‘Yeah, okay, okay’. And then I said, ‘No, I’m actually going to do this.’

“They’re really supportive. There’s a couple of my friends actually coming down on the day to see me finish.”

A swimmer from age five, competitive from nine, Scognamillo has stepped up her training in recent months to get ready for the open-water swim. Her regimen has even included cold pools and body-acclimatizing cold showers.

With her scheduled swim fast approaching, Scognamillo said a touch of nervousness has started to creep in, though it’s nothing that could shake her confidence. All that’s left to worry about, she said, are the conditions July 12.

“It could be completely like Mill Pond or it could be really big waves and choppy,” Scognamillo said. “It’s really unpredictable. It’s definitely going to be cold and there’s going to be seaweed and fish and whatnot. The weather could be pretty much anything.”

The young swimmer said she wanted to use her talent to do some good, so she’s using the lake-crossing attempt to raise funds for an incubator for Sick Kids hospital’s neonatal unit.

“Swimming Lake Erie is not something people do every day,” Scognamillo said. “I thought that it would be a good way to raise money.”

Vaughan Today
Online: July 11, 2008 [link]