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Swimming for Neurodegenerative Disease Research

To Donate Click HERE  


At about 1:30 p.m. on Friday, August 12th, I left Budapest Park in Toronto and--with absolutely stunning weather conditions and the extraordinary emotional & logistical support of my crew throughout--got back at about 8 a.m. Sunday, August 14th, 100.6 km and 42 hours, 37 minutes later (pending final ratification / confirmation).

I cannot thank everyone enough for your support, well-wishes, and generosity throughout this process.  We absolutely CRUSHED my funding goal of $50,000 CAD: With donations still coming in, we're now closing in on $70,000.  If you would still like to donate to the Tanz Centre, you can do so via the link above.  Every little bit helps!


From me and the Tanz Centre, thank you so so much.

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I'm a Toronto-born marathon swimmer and public defender.  The second week of August 2022, I'll be trying to swim across Lake Ontario, from Toronto to St. Catharines, and back.  The two-way crossing will cover just over 100km in distance and require between 35 and 50 hours of continuous swimming.  If I'm successful, it will be the longest unassisted open-water swim in Canada or by a Canadian, and the eighth-longest unassisted swim on record globally. (By “unassisted,” I mean without the help of tides or currents, a wetsuit, or other warmth or floatation devices).

I’ve done long swims before, but this is on a whole different level.  I’ve been training pretty much continuously since crossing the English Channel last summer—through tendinitis, cortisone shots, more tendinitis, more shots, splitting my heel open on a bad flip turn, splitting my head open because it turns out you hit piers if you swim with your eyes closed, a parasitic larvae attack (don’t ask), and a 4am trip to the ER after I somehow managed to completely blind myself at the beach.  For the Channel, I was swimming over 100,000 yards per month; for this swim, I’ve had to hit more than 100,000 yards per week.

I’m raising money for the University of Toronto’s Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, a world leader in scientific research on debilitating brain disorders like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ALS, Lewy Body Dementia, and CJD. The Tanz Centre’s researchers are doing absolutely fantastic work transforming our understanding of these illnesses and are at the forefront of the global effort to prevent, diagnose, control, and cure them.

This cause is incredibly personal for me.  My father, a criminal defense lawyer in Toronto, passed away five years ago this August after an extremely brief struggle with an unidentified neurodegenerative disease. In November 2016, he completed a complex jury trial. By February 2017, just three months later, he was in emergency care in a psychiatric ward. By May, he had largely lost the ability to talk, and by August he was gone. With few treatment options, all my family and I could do during this nightmarish time was watch, try to adjust to each heartbreaking new phase, and offer him and each other what little comfort we could.

This is why I’m swimming: To raise money for research that would help us better understand, prevent, and treat neurodegenerative diseases like the one that took my Dad.  I would love your support.  No donation is too small; every little bit helps.

I would like to thank Torys LLP for its generous support of the swim, and to gratefully acknowledge my coaches, Sue McKay and Dan Daly; support crew, James Nuttall, Sean Lynch, Alex Minard, Mike Coughlin, Bernard von Bieberstein and Paul Miskew; safety boat captain Christine Arsenault and her team; Solo Swims of Ontario; CIBBOWS; SPEAR Physical Therapy; fellow open-water swimmers Jim Loreto and Vicki Keith; integrative therapist Dr. Matthew Tolstoy; and my long-suffering partner, Sylvie Levine, for their unstinting help and support along the way.

Thank you!!!

Sean Nuttall

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