A Lake of Bays man is embarking on his longest swim yet, for a cause close to his heart.
On August 27, competitive swimmer Glenn “The Fish” Vickery will swim nine kilometres around the entirety of Bigwin Island to raise money and awareness for the Huntsville Hospital Foundation.
“It’s a celebration that you can lead an active life after heart surgery, set goals, be aggressive, get back in good physical shape,” says Vickery. “And of course, it’s a shout-out to thank the incredible staff, all the healthcare workers at the Huntsville Hospital for all the help they’ve given me over the last three years.”
In 2019, Vickery was swimming at his cottage in Lake of Bays when he began to have significant trouble breathing. He says his family doctor at the Huntsville Hospital booked him for an echocardiogram, which found a serious heart murmur, and Vickery was rushed to Newmarket’s South Lake Hospital for surgery.
“They gave me a chance at getting my life back to normal, and I just felt compelled to try to acknowledge all the help that I’ve received from the Huntsville Hospital,” he says.
Vickery has his heart set on raising $60,000 to buy the hospital a new Cardiac Echo Machine– a piece of equipment he credits with helping to save his life.
“That was the machine that got the ball rolling to diagnose my problem, and without that machine, it could have been a lot more dire,” says Vickery. “Huntsville Hospital being almost like a feeder system to the bigger units where you get your surgery, without those pieces of equipment readily available, it just makes it a lot more difficult to diagnose a problem. And in my case, it was essential that it was diagnosed right away.”
Vickery, who has been swimming competitively since he was eight years old, says although it’s his biggest swim to date, it’s not his first time doing something like this. In 2018, he swam the entirety of Lake of Bays – 220 kilometres – in five to seven-kilometre stretches between the long weekends in May and August, to raise awareness for shoreline protection.
“It’s definitely my biggest challenge to date,” he says. “The island itself has some pretty strong currents and winds, and can get high waves. All of that factoring in, it’ll be a good, challenging swim.”
Vickery says he expects it to take three to five hours of straight swimming after diving in at the golf course, with a few stops to chat with cottagers along the way.
You can donate to Vickery’s fundraiser here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/glennvickerysbigwinislandswim