Swimmer Jade Scognamillo went from her community centre pool in Woodbridge to the Great Lakes in one stroke.
The Country Day School alumna set three world records after two marathon swims in 2008 and 2009.
Then 14 years old, she swam across Lake Erie from Sturgeon Point, New York to Crystal Beach, becoming the youngest ever to do such a feat, and also registered the fastest time of 5:40:30.
“It was pretty awesome, I have to say, because I went in with a goal of just finishing,” she said. “(Erie) was my first experience with marathon swimming.”
A year later she would become the youngest to swim across Lake Ontario, posting a time of 19:59:49.
She’s been swimming since the age of five, but Scognamillo didn’t start thinking about large bodies of water until she moved to Canada from London, England in 2005.
It was while in Canada, she started to think outside the lane.
“Marathon swimming was actually something I’ve never really known much about,” she said. “It was more kind of, I wanted to see how far I could swim.
“I wanted to raise money for charity too, so it just seemed like the most appropriate way to do it because it meshed, and a good way to raise awareness because it’s not something people do every day.”
During her two races, Scognamillo planned to raise $35,000 for a new incubator at Sick Kids hospital. Years later, she ended exceeding that goal, netting $58,000 for the hospital.
Still, as a teenager, spending so much time in the water, one would question if her academics would prune up along with her fingertips.
“I always found it hard balancing my swimming with school,” she said. “It’s such a big commitment.
“I think being at a private school there are a lot of expectations on you.”
Country Day School works with athletes though, so in Scognamillo’s grade 11 year she enrolled in the King City school’s athletic program, allowing her an extra spare to swim.
Also, having the school’s press relations agent, Francis Gambino, working along with her to plan the Erie and Ontario races, helped lead her on her current path at Laurier University.
The 17-year-old Scognamillo is taking communications, after Gambino inspired her.
“It was actually through all my contacts within the media with my swim that got me interested in communications,” she said.
But she hasn’t gotten out of the pool yet. She is a member of Laurier’s varsity swim team, partaking in the 200-metre breaststroke.
“They have so much spirit here,” she said. “I already feel like a Golden Hawk.”