Robin Lajoie, 60, aims to swim 55 kilometres around Pelee Island to help raise money for the Pelee Island Bird Observatory

Hamilton man, 60, set to swim 55 km around Pelee Island

 CBC News Posted: Aug 05, 2015 6:00 AM ET Last Updated: Aug 05, 2015 8:31 AM ET

Robin Lajoie, 60, aims to swim 55 kilometres around Pelee Island to help raise money for the Pelee Island Bird Observatory.

Robin Lajoie, 60, aims to swim 55 kilometres around Pelee Island to help raise money for the Pelee Island Bird Observatory. (Submitted)

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Pelee Island Swim 10:09

Perhaps you plan on taking a relaxing dip in the lake during the remaining dog days of summer.

Not to make you feel bad about your plans, but Robin Lajoie, 60, is about to attempt an approximate 55-kilometre swim around Pelee Island later today. As far as he knows he’s the only swimmer who has taken on this challenge in recent memory. While he has no examples to follow, he’s feeling fairly confident.

“I’ve been doing 60-to-70 miles per week and I’m definitely strong enough to do it,” said the Hamilton-based endurance runner and triathlete in an interview with CBC News before the swim. 

Don’t try this at home

While he may be confident that doesn’t mean you should attempt such a feat, says Cynthia Cakebread, the area chair for the Lifesaving Society in Windsor-Essex.

Algae Bloom Pelee Island

Robin Lajoie will also have to swim through a massive algae bloom surrounding Pelee Island. (NASA)

“We would never suggest someone try this kind of swim without some kind of preparation,” she said. “Whether it’s just a short swim off the coast or a long swim of 50K around the island like he’s doing you’d want to take all the same precautions.”

According to Cakebread, the key safety precautions to take for open water swims include: proper safety supervision along the entire route of the swim from some kind of support boat, as well as looking at water quality, water conditions and boating routes prior to the swim.

Lajoie will also have to contend with a huge algae bloom that encompasses Pelee Island right now. New satellite images show the bloom stretching from Point Pelee National Park to and around the island.

Swimming in algae blooms is not recommended by the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

(…)

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