JENNA  BRIANNE  LAMBERT HEROIC SWIMMER

 

Jenna Brianne Lambert 1

 

On July 19, 2006 – braving winds and high waves – using only her arms and the strength of her upper body – 15 year old Jenna Lambert became the first person with cerebral palsy to swim 32 treacherous kilometres from Baird Point, New York and across to Lake Ontario Park, in Kingston, very close to her own home town.

 

Jenna Brianne Lambert 2

 

As the former Easter Seals Ambassador neared the shore of Lake Ontario – the deafening sound of crowds by the hundreds chanting: “Go Jenna, Go” – saw the teen’s bobbing, red bathing cap moving faster and faster indicating she’d found the energy, after 32 hours and 18 minutes of swimming, to push a little harder. Jenna switched from the steady, front crawl {used to complete most of the final 100 metres} … and in eight powerful butterfly strokes – propelled herself to a silver walker, half-submerged in the water, and slowly, came ashore, beaming with the words from her tired little voice: “nothing is impossible! Everyone should know that and I feel awesome!”

 

Jenna Brianne Lambert 3

PROFILE

Jenna Brianne Lambert entered her first swim competition at age 10 though she never entered the pool.

When Jenna first touched the tile deck of Queen’s University pool in Kingston, she found herself worrying about what people would think of her disability and the scars on her legs from four separate operations. She burst into tears and returned to the change room.

For the rest of the year Jenna showed up at every swim meet – yet refused to get into the water. But the following year – Jenna overcame her reservations and not only got into the water but went to her coach, herself a record- breaking marathon swimmer, and said she wanted to do the Lake Ontario crossing even though cerebral palsy had made her legs too stiff to kick in water. Her coach told her to come back when she was 15 and … she did!

When the morning of July, 2006 came – Jenna entered the cold, tumultuous waters for the 32 kilometer swim.

Jenna’s swim teammates, some with wheelchairs and walkers, camped out all day on the beach to wait for her to walk away from the finish line in her silver walker.

But as night fell, the wind picked up and changed course, forcing Jenna to swim into 14-knot winds and rolling waves that reached heights of 1.5 metres. But Jenna insisted on pushing forward.

To pass the time – Jenna sang or paused to speak with supporters using a method taught by her coach: one word for each time she turned her head to take a breath. And after 32 hours and 18 minutes – pushing harder and harder – young Jenna came ashore!

“It’s such a great feeling! I’m doing this for all the Penguins and all of my friends so I can influence and raise awareness on just what people with disabilities can accomplish.”

Jenna raised $200,000.+





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