February 25th, 2016
Larry Townsend – Reporter
Guest Speaker Past President Chris Bisson introduced Miguel Vadillo who enthralled us with a fascinating personal story of overcoming numerous obstacles to reach his goal of becoming the 44th person to successfully swim across Lake Ontario!
He shared how his love of water developed at an early age in Mexico with very strong support from his brother. Miguel had the privilege of serving as a “Crew Member” for a good friend who successfully swam the English Channel!
After reading about the tragic drowning of three young children in a swimming pool at a Toronto Hotel, he set a goal to swim the Lake and raise funds so that needy children would have the opportunity to learn to swim. When he wasn’t coaching our province’s Provincial Pentathlon Team, Miguel spent countless hours training with support from his young son to prepare for his major swim of 52 kilometers! His talk touched on setting a goal, staying motivated, persevering, and devoting time to training and more training!
The starter fired the gun before his three guide boats were ready and close by. They took one and a half hours to find him! We learned a great deal about how currents and wind affect Lake Ontario…. many
times not in the favour of a person attempting to swim in a straight line from the United States to Toronto.
A major shock to Miguel’s journey occurred because freighters with very large and powerful propellers were churning up very cold water from greater depths. In one front crawl stroke, Miguel moved into water which suddenly dropped ten degrees…. way below temperatures which Kiwanians like!
Further unique details touched on the super challenge of swimming in the dark, trying to avoid hypothermia, while keeping track of the three boats which are required to accompany each swimmer. It was surprising to learn that no other swimmers could be in the water with Miguel at night because it is so difficult to keep track of one swimmer, let alone more.
He paid tribute to the friend who found funding for the guide boats at the last minute plus the many crew members who manned the boats and swam beside him in the day me.
Anecdotes re: new meaning to the expression “CRAP happens” as in criticism, rejection, adversity and pressure plus a humorous story of how the mind works when you expect hot coffee but receive chicken broth in the dark, and very cold water added to the power of what he accomplished!
Miguel raised several thousand dollars which was used to pay for swimming lessons for children who wouldn’t normally have this opportunity! He really wanted to quit and be pulled from the water four
times before he finally touched the shore at Marilyn Bell Park in Toronto.
His name is engraved on a waterfront plaque which honours each of the 44 successful swimmers who have conquered Lake Ontario! Miguel ended up swimming 59 kilometers to make a 52 kilometer crossing as the crow flies. His presentation concluded with a short highlight video of his experiences.
Connect with Miguel Vadillo: