Annaleise Carr lands at Marilyn Bell park as becomes the youngest to cross Lake Ontario and raise money for Camp Trillium August 19, 2012.
Credits: DAVE ABEL/QMI AGENCY
TORONTO - She is only 14, but a day after swimming across Lake Ontario, Annaleise Carr feels more like 51.
When the 4-foot-10 Walsh, ON, teenager stepped onto Toronto's waterfront at 8:57 p.m. Sunday, she followed in the footsteps of 50 older people - emerging as the youngest to conquer the lake.
The 51.5-km, almost 27-hour swim from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., to Marilyn Bell Park almost ended Sunday while the plucky youngster battled strong winds and 1.5-metre high waves.
"But she perked up," her proud dad, Jeff, told QMI Agency.
"She's just a mite of a thing," he said, calling his daughter "amazing."
Whisked away by ambulance from about 300 cheering fans - including some holding sparkers to light the way to the boardwalk - Annaleise stayed overnight in Toronto after getting checked out in hospital.
"She went to bed at midnight and was up at 9 a.m. this morning," her spokesman, Ross Keegan, said after receiving an e-mail from Jeff and Debbie Carr just before 11 a.m. Monday.
"She's stiff and a bit sore, but she's in great shape," Keegan said.
Billed as "Annaleise's Radical Crossing," the swim has raised money for Camp Trillium, a retreat for children with cancer and their families.
"We're still getting calls," Keegan said. "One woman said she'd donate $1,000 and a volunteer said an elderly resident told him we had to wait a week for her pension cheque to arrive, then she'd be making a donation."
Annaleise attended a press conference in Port Dover, Ont., on Monday and said as she battled five-foot waves and exhaustion in the darkness, she was updated on the ever-increasing number of donations coming in for her cause from the team on the boats following her.
Her goal had been to raise $30,000. Donations stood at $90,000.
"By that time, I knew I couldn't stop because of all the people donating," Annaleise said.
Donations for Camp Trillium from Carr's swim have reached $115,000 and counting in donations, the media conference heard.
Annaleise said her swim "got tougher and tougher" on Saturday night as waves grew larger, but persevered until daylight when she was allowed to have a "pacer" join her in the water.
At that point, "I got back into my groove again," she said.
About four kilometres from shore, Annaleise said she ran into currents that kept her from "going anywhere" but was encouraged after seeing the lights on shore and hearing the crowd waiting for her arrival.
Her swim coach Lisa Anderson of Brantford, Ont., who followed Annaleise all the way in a small craft, said she too thought the swim was over a couple of times.
"I couldn't believe at one point that she didn't want to get out of the water," Anderson said.
Even after daybreak, when the water calmed down, "I saw bits of improvement, but it was still looking pretty bleak at that point," she said.
But after Annaleise was told of a single $10,000 donation that had come in, something came over the teen, Anderson said.
"I've been swimming all my life, I've coached for 12 years, and I've never seen anything like that," she said. "She just kept going and going."
In an interview, Carr said she "had thoughts about getting out" of the water on Saturday night but didn't say anything to Anderson and instead "kept thinking about the kids of Camp Trillium."
-- with files from Daniel R. Pearce