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Teacher swims across Lake Erie to raise awareness for lake’s health problems

Daniel Zin warms up after completing his swim across Lake Erie.
Daniel Zin warms up after completing his swim across Lake Erie. Freshwater Alliance Twitter

An ambitious history and geography teacher has completed his swim across Lake Erie to raise awareness for the lake’s decline in health.

Daniel Zin hit the waters early Saturday morning to swim the nearly 30 kilometres from Long Point to Port Dover.

“I get a lot of ‘are you nuts?!'” Zin chuckled.

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“I really don’t know what I signed up for, but I’m in it now.”

After high winds and waves forced Zin to cancel his attempt in August, and a forecast of strong headwinds Saturday.

With the weather forecast in mind, Zin and his support crew adjusted their plans, completing the 26.5 km swim in about ten hours.

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Zin’s effort is aimed at raising funds and awareness towards the lake’s change in health and environment, such as issues dealing with toxic algae blooms and plastics pollution.

“Lake Erie is getting hit with some terrible stuff right, [such as] blue-green toxic algae,” Zin told 980 CFPL.
“[It] depletes the oxygen storage in the water, kills the ecosystem, kills families’ dogs that run into the water, terrible on your skin, creates rashes, and it’s not good to drink in your tap water.”

Another toxic algae called cladophora is present in the Easter basin, and also a cause for concern.

“It fouls the waterlines, it degrades the ecosystem, and it clogs water intake pipes which is a huge issue for municipalities.”

The swim raised more than $6,000 for the Canadian Freshwater Alliance to help with clean-up and protection efforts in Lake Erie.

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Zin says the plethora of invasive species is a major issue for all the Great Lakes, not just Lake Erie.

Last but not least, troubles with plastic continue.

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“All of our [trash] that gets out into the fresh water systems, little fish and microorganism feed on that, and big fish eat [them], and we eat those bigger fish. That’s called bioaccumulation,’ Zin told 980 CFPL.

“Whatever doesn’t get put up into bioaccumulation will eventually filter its way into the ocean.”

READ MORE: It came from Lake Erie: Why toxic algae’s a nightmare for Canada, too

Zin’s passion for open-water swimming began a few years back when he was seeking a challenge to set to keep himself in shape.

“I absolutely love open-water swimming, I love being in the environment and the natural world,” Zin told 980 CFPL. “The longer I’m in there, the better.”

Swimming across Lake Erie seemed like a good goal for Zin. He wanted to push his limits and maximize his distance and time spent in water.

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Zin says he’s excited for the stories he’ll get to tell his class now that his journey is completed, and he hopes his students will get excited and more involved with nature as a result.

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More information on Zin’s voyage and how to donate can be found online.