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To all those interested

We are doing homework.

We are reviewing the facts and adding all your kind and smart suggestions.

Within the next two months we will let you know if there is another race by us in Lake Erie next year. Meanwhile please read:


Karen O'krafka swims on top of a wave in Lake Erie during the Embrace the Challenge race on Sunday August 20, 2017.
Karen O'krafka swims on top of a wave in Lake Erie during the Embrace the Challenge race on Sunday August 20, 2017. Photo courtesy of Terri O' Sullivan
"Today was a very though day and we found a mean wind god that made the lake angry and that made swimming very difficult for anyone. All of you have my deepest respect and my gratitude for your participation.
We only put this on because of you. We do this things because are challenging and today we were challenged and more. We also want to be here tomorrow to tell the story".


Carlos Costa braves the high winds and waves in Lake Erie during the Embrace the Challenge event on Sunday August 20, 2017. Photo Miguel Vadillo


I have said it before and I am a firm believer of this.
In the water as it is often in regular life, anyone of us is just as good as the support we have beside us, how we interact with others and how we are able to be inspired by the people around us. 
I feel that I am a very lucky person that has been able to cultivate relationships with amazing people through the sport of swimming and I am very grateful for that. 
I also know that there are people willing to do things that other wouldn’t and they have inspired me to attempt things that otherwise I wouldn’t . 
One of the things I have learned is that the key word is attempt. 
When things go our way we simply celebrate and usually we turn a blind eye to the learning aspects of the attempt because that word now becomes success but when the attempt becomes a failed attempt is when we turn to the drawing board for the links that we missed the ones that we overlooked and the ones that are there that should not have.
I believe that we are not obligated to know everything and for this attempt we did not know many, many things but I feel obligated to turn back and learn as much as I can from this experience because that is what I feel I owe to you.
Your support, your trust and your enthusiasm for the things that Josh and I in this case do, deserve at least us becoming better for you.
I want you to know that I am very appreciative of the positive feedback we have gotten in social media I am also appreciative of the supportive private words of many of you. It is great to know that you are there as a swimming and sport family that is supportive of each other and that is why I do this for a living.
As I process my thoughts I would like to ask for your feedback in terms of what you feel we need to do to make your experience better.
Being honest with you, the launch of the boats was not as smooth as I had imagined, the logistics and location of the radios distribution was not the best, and as I was under a lot of stress I know for a fact that I found very difficult to find the words needed to explain last minute instructions and on the go I found hard to foresee things about to unfold.
As per how the race went I believe that with the exception of the force of the wind that was predicted much lower than we had it, everything went as we would have expected from the organizing point of view. We were bound to have troubles to solve and that is what we did on every case every time and as fast as we could we attended every aspect presented to the best of our ability. We know now how to handle better a few of this troubles and possible how to avoid them in the first place.
As I write this I can not help to think that we are human beings and to come to terms with the fact that we all are bound to make mistakes in a split second.

What we attempt is a very hard thing to do at the maximum level it would be the PRO level in any sport, the AAA sport scene as it is, just happen to have different venues in the world and is called Open Water swimming. 

This is / was a marathon swim in a venue where anyone have very little room for mistakes and as I said before we are ALL prone to make them. 
There is NO ONE to blame here so there is no need for anyone to apologize and yet I believe that we are all to learn and re direct our perspectives for the positives we had.

I also believe that circumstances were not easy and every one needed to have cool heads to be able to make decisions which as you all know and experienced it is very hard to do. Emotions run wild and our natural reaction of preservation to challenging conditions is fear. I congratulate you all for resisting this fear and feel extremely blessed that we had the strength of character to maintain our actions within reason for the good of all participants.

I have gone over and over again reviewing and I just need to express that:
I know that we could have done some things different and more likely we will if there is another attempt but we did not on Sunday and we are were we are: (or at least I am)
Safe and sound.
Tired but strong.
Defeated but hungry for redemption. 
Sad but willing to be happy.

I thank you for helping us make this an experience where we all learned something positive, where I work to change the things I can change and make it safer stronger happier next time (again if there is one)

I said it at the end in the restaurant I am honoured to have worked with Joshua Reid I do not have enough words to thank him for taking charge on the things that I sorely lack competency, I could not have had a better partner to put together something like this. THANK YOU JOSHUA
I thank you all included in this message we attempted something historic, something that would have been a glorious moment in open water swimming in Canada and the U.S. Observers crew members boat drivers, volunteers, behind the scenes supporters and sponsors that without hesitation jumped and made the attempt possible. Thinking back… it was an incredible thing that we all put together. 
You all have my respect, admiration and gratitude.



Lets create memories


with friends

Long Distance races in the Great Lakes are back, thanks to the partnership of North Shore Challenge & Embrace Open Water Swimming!

You can now participate in a marathon swim across Lake Erie!

20 Kilometers Starting in Sturgeon Point NY, USA and finishing in Crystal Beach Ontario, Canada.

Solo or Relays!

Saturday August 19, 2017 

All participants are expected to be on the shores of Sturgeon point at 6:30am on the Saturday of the event.

If you are on the Canadian side, participants will board the transport boats on the Crystal Beach launch docks at 5:30 am and we will travel to the start point in US waters.

Start time of the event is at 7:00am SHARP.

The organization of the race provides a lead boat for navigation, plus 3 safety boats.

Each individual participant must provide an assisting boat with a navigator, and all required boating safety equipment. 

Each relay must provide its own assisting boat from which each team member will jump in the water at 30 minute intervals.

Relays are 4 members minimum and 6 maximum. Each participant must swim at least once for a 30 minutes period.

The lead boat will have the official time and every 30 minutes will sound a horn that indicates the relay member exchange.

There are many logistical aspects of this event that we are working hard to anticipate to ensure a safe and fun event.

Given the magnitude of this swim we want you to start making your plans as soon as possible, so let your adventurous gene kick in and you can plan your summer schedule including this extraordinary opportunity!

We will be updating this webpage often with new information as it comes available.




Embrace the Challenge Erie Crossing OWS (ECEC) is a NEW open water swim event taking place August 19th, 2017, in Eastern Lake Erie (with a weather date of Sunday, August 20th). The proposed course for this event runs from Sturgeon Point, NY, north to Crystal Beach, ON, a distance of approximately 20km. This stretch of Lake Erie is considered an official Great Lake crossing point.

• "NAKED" SOLO CROSSING: swimmers participating in this category will be required to follow GLCO, and World Open Water Swimming Association Marathon rules, including correct swimwear, no physical contact, with support crew or crafts, no assistive or pacing tools, etc. For a full listing of rules, please consult the GLCO guidelines https://www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com/sanctions/rules-regulations/wowsa-17-0-marathon-and-channel-swims/ and http://lostswimming.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Rules-of-Marathon-Swimming.pdf

Swimmers who complete this category will receive “Official Lake Erie Crosser” certificates from the GLCO, and will have their swims sanctioned as official Great Lakes Solo Swims. As well, GSS points will be assigned to finishers in this category.

• WETSUIT SOLO CROSSING: swimmers participating in this category will be completing a solo crossing. However, because of the use of a wetsuit, or other swimwear or assistive tools (solo swim bag, pacing tools, etc.), the completion of this swim will NOT be recognized as an official solo crossing. You will still receive GSS points for your solo race.

• NAKED RELAY: Swimmers will swim as part of a relay team with a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6 swimmers, all of whom are not using wetsuits, solo bags, or any other items not allowed by channel rules. Swimmers will cycle out every 30 minutes (marked by a siren from the zodiac boats), so that every swimmer completes at least 30 minutes of the relay. Once every swimmer has completed 30 minutes in the water, the order of swimmer changes is at the discretion of the team members. NOTE: There will be no GSS points given to swimmers who participate in a relay.

• WETSUIT RELAY: Swimmers will swim as part of a relay team with a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 6 swimmers, with at least one (and likely all) team member using a wetsuit, solo bag, or any other item not allowed by channel rules.

Swimmers will cycle out every 30 minutes (marked by a siren from the zodiac boats), so that every swimmer completes at least 30 minutes of the relay. Once every swimmer has completed 30 minutes in the water, the order of swimmer changes is at the discretion of the team members. NOTE: There will be no GSS points given to swimmers who participate in a relay.

Both solo categories will be further divided by gender – Male and Female categories.

Relays will have Male, Female, and Mixed categories.



Every solo swimmer or relay team is required to have a motorized support vessel. This support vessel is for the purpose of navigation, nutrition, coaching, and guidance, as well as to assist and evacuate in the event of an emergency.

Support boats for solo swimmers and relays must be large enough to house the remaining swimmers on the relay team and an independent observer. Support vessels must float alongside their swimmer at no less than 1-meter distance, and no more than 10-meter distance. Swimmers may not draft off their support boats, nor may they be towed by their support boats. Solo crossers may not touch their support boats.

In addition to the swimmer support boats, ECEC officials and swim masters will be on a number of zodiacs throughout the course, for oversight and enforcement of rules. There will also be a lead navigation vessel (Large Sailboat), that swimmers and support boats are encouraged to follow. In addition, there will be 2-3 rear guard speed boats that will assist with navigation, and will also be responsible for swimmer safety and evacuations (if needed). If available, OPP Marine Units will also assist with water safety in Canadian waters, and the US and Canadian Coastguard will both be aware of the event.

Solo swimmers will be required to complete a 10km qualifying swim in a maximum time of 4 hours. This qualifying swim must be from an official open water swim from the calendar years 2016 or 2017. Pool swims, or unsanctioned (word of mouth) swims will not count as a qualifying swim. Examples of acceptable events are:

• North Shore Challenge 10km

• Embrace Open Water Festival 10km

• Swim for the Cure 13.8km (a max time for this event of 5h30m)

• King Wolf Swim 10km

• Skaha Lake Ultra Swim 11.8km (a max time for this event of 4h45m)

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