Ray Scott starts Lake Manitou swim on Manitoulin Island

A Manitoulin Island man has gone from sitting on the shores of Lake Manitou to swimming across it.

Ray Scott says he expects the Lake Manitou swim will take him 12 to 14 hours

Scott will not be wearing a wetsuit for the 12-hour swim. (Courtesy of Ray Scott )

A Manitoulin Island man has now started his swim across Lake Manitou. 

Ray Scott planned to start his swim Friday morning, but cold water forced a delay. Scott said on Twitter that the temperature of Lake Manitou dropped to 8.5 degrees Celcius last week.

On Monday morning, Scott made a splash and started his swim on the western bank of the lake.

Lake Manitou is the largest lake on Manitoulin Island, the largest lake island in the world.

“It’s a strange mixture of excitement and anxiety,” said Scott, when he reflected on the swim. “I know I’ve trained hard so that I can approach this with confidence.”

Scott has lived on the lake for nine years, and usually swims its waters to train for triathlons. He said he first started to consider swimming the entire length of the lake a few years back.

Unlike the Great Lakes, which have had an increasing allure to open water swimmers over the past few years, Scott said no one has yet taken a crack at swimming Lake Manitou.

The route Ray Scott will be taking from Newby's Bay to Sandfield boat launch. (Google Maps)

Despite his previous triathlon training, Scott said his plan was greeted by some hesitation from his family.

“My father tried his best to convince me to swim any smaller lake,” he said. “My kids looked at me funny at the beginning of this, but they’re getting the sense that I’m ready, so they haven’t been giving me as many sideways looks.”

Obstacles ahead

The biggest challenge facing Scott is the temperature of the water.

According to Scott, the water temperature has been generally cold this summer, typically ranging from 15 to 18 degrees.

Scott is hoping for 17 degrees for his swim.

“It’s not easy to stay in the cold indefinitely,” said Scott. “"I do have the advantage that I'm moving and I'm generating heat when I'm swimming, so the trick is to swim fast enough that you get enough heat to keep yourself comfortable, but not to swim so fast that you get too tired to keep going.”

Scott said he’s spent most of the summer acclimatizing to the water temperatures.

Another element coming into play are the lake’s natural hazards.

“On a smaller-scale lake such as Lake Manitou there’s a lot of things to look out for, like shallow sections with rocky hazards,” said Scott. This is especially likely since most of his route hugs the shoreline.

As a result of those hazards, Scott made the decision to do his swim during the day. He plans to enter the water on the western shores of Newby’s Bay, and begin swimming the 19 kilometres to the Sandfield boat launch at the other side. His website says he expects to take 25 to 35 minutes to complete each kilometre.

While his goal is to finish, Scott said he’s gotten a lot out of his swim training – including a greater appreciation of the lake he lives on.

“There are a lot of things you come to love about the lake, and based on all the time I spend on the water, you can’t help but respect the conditions and the beautiful parts of nature I wouldn’t have seen otherwise.”\


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