Crossing for a Cause athlete swims Lake Manitou

by Lucia Weiler

LAKE MANITOU— On July 2, Michael McIsaac, a young lawyer from Toronto, completed a six-hour training swim in the crisp and clear 65°F waters of Lake Manitou. Mr. McIsaac is the athlete behind Crossing for a Cause and he plans to accomplish one of the toughest physical challenges in the world—a long distance swim across Lake Ontario.

Lake Manitou was a perfect training swim which has been planned for months and was inspired by Ray Scott’s Lake Manitou swim last year. Mr. McIsaac’s cause is the Douglas Wright Foundation, a registered Canadian charity devoted to fighting melanoma in Canada.

Michael arrived onManitoulin Island on July 1 excited to explore the lake with his crew of six people made up of family and friends. “Lake Manitou is amazing and I’m so looking forward to my longest open water training swim to date,” said Mr. McIsaac.

Mr. McIsaac’s Lake Manitou swim route was planned with his uncle Dr. Peter Weiler, a long time summer visitor to the Island. The route was chosen to follow the shoreline for the first half of the swim allowing the crew to acclimatize to their first open water long distance swim experience. The second half of the swim involved an open water crossing at the widest part of Lake Manitou, to allow Mr. McIsaac to experience the conditions he will likely face in his Lake Ontario crossing.

The weather couldn’t have been better on the morning of the swim. The sun was bright the water cool but calm. Mr. McIsaac jumped into the waters at 9 am off the shores near Watson’s Bay. His wingman Steve Purificati was ready and waiting in a red sea kayak loaded with equipment and food to support the six-hour training swim. Accompanying the team was the family powered tandem kayak doling out lots of cheering along the way. Last but not least a power boat was on standby to rotate the family crew every two hours and bring any additional supplies if needed.

“We’re very proud of Michael who in all swam 18 km in six hours in early summer cool lake waters and challenging conditions,” said Dr. Weiler. He met the requirements for a sanctioned swim, which includes swimming only in a swimsuit, goggles and swim cap as wetsuits are not permitted. “We were very conscious of the safety of Michael and his crew. We made sure that the team’s location on the lake was monitored at all times using GPS technology and cell phones. A constant line of communication was maintained between the on water and on shore crew.”

Mr. McIsaac’s physical and mental condition was also closely monitored and his crew chief Steve, who kept track of time for progress and nutrition breaks. Mr. Purificati will be accompanying Mr. McIsaac on August 21 to 22 when the swimmer will be attempting the traditional “South-to-North” crossing of Lake Ontario, beginning at Niagara-on-the-Lake and ending at Marilyn Bell Park in Toronto. This was the route used by 16-year-old Marilyn Bell on her historic successful crossing of Lake Ontario which occurred in 1954.

“It was wonderful to have the support of my family and the community as well,” Mr. McIsaac said. “Thanks to all who came out to cheer and show interest in my swim.”

All funds raised in the Crossing for the Cause campaign will be given to the Douglas Wright Foundation. For more information visit