Stephanie Hermans acted as a support swimmer for Gregg Taylor's successful crossing of Lake Ontario in 2003 and developed the desire to swim the lake herself. So after considerable training during the next four years, Stephanie achieved her goal on 10-11 August 2007, at age 21, with a time of 18 hours 5 minutes and 37 seconds to complete the course from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Marilyn Bell Park. Swim Master, Greg Taylor, said that Stephanie was so fit when she finished that she was dancing with excitement.
Stephanie set a target to raise funds for research into Juvenile Diabetes - her sister Sarah (seen with her on the left of the photo) was diagnosed with this condition in 2003. Stephanie's fund-raising produced over $10,000 and the following article provides more information on Stephanie and her swim. It was written by Brandon Walker of the Guelph Mercury newspaper:
Stephanie Hermans has an interesting case of sunburn. Where her skin was shielded from the sun, the shape of goggles has formed around her eyes -- plus she has a dividing line across her forehead from the swimmer's cap. But an 18-hour, five-minute swim across Lake Ontario will do that.
The swim started just before 9 p.m. Friday at a Niagara-on-the-Lake and ended more than 50 kilometres later, around 3 p.m. Saturday, at Toronto's Marilyn Bell Park. It was postponed from the original Thursday start time due to rough waters.
"It was challenging at times," Hermans said from her home in Brantford. "There were some pretty big swells on Friday night that made me worry if they got any bigger I'd be swimming stationary for the whole night, but once I got through those it wasn't too bad."
The 21-year-old University of Guelph graduate swam across the lake to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Her twin sister, Sarah, was diagnosed with diabetes about four years ago.
Through the night, Hermans swam alone, except for boats filled with friends and family around her. Once the sun came up, she had a team of pacers who took turns swimming with her. "I was told my pace was faster on Saturday because the swimmers kept me going," Hermans said. One of those pacers was Arlene Hills, from Guelph. "Arlene was great. She really matched my stroke and got my pace up. Plus, she always looks happy when she swims, which helped keep me happy." Hills said for most people it would have been a very challenging swim, but Hermans' positive attitude pulled her through it. "She had about six hours of two- to three-foot-high waves, but she was great. She was very positive and never complained," Hills said.
"I knew if I just kept going I'd make it to the other end," Hermans said. "There was always family there cheering me on and that really motivated me."
She touched the wall and climbed out immediately, Hills said.
Both her shoulders were still feeling the burn yesterday, Hermans said. She didn't have much of an appetite after drinking meal replacements and eating chocolate for energy throughout the swim, but other than that and the funky suntan, she seemed fine.
"It was really neat because on Saturday I could see the Toronto skyline. Although, at one point all of the boats helping me had to get even closer to protect me from other boats. We even blared our horns at some of them."
Hermans said she couldn't have done it without friends and family supporting her.
"I also wanted to thank my coach, Hans Witolla, my Swim Masters Greg and Christine Taylor, and all the people who volunteered their time to drive the boats."
Will she ever attempt the feat again?
"No, once is enough. I've proven I can do it; but you never know . . . My parents are happy for me but they don't want me to do it again because it takes so much to organize it all."
Stephanie was excited to join the SSO Board in 2021.