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Natalie Lambert's Swim the Difference Marathon

Natalie Lambert's Swim the Difference Marathon
Natalie Lambert's Swim the Difference Marathon


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and the Swim the Difference Marathon

 

Marathon swimming is in Natalie Lambert's blood. After pacing and supporting her sister, Jenna, during her historic Lake Ontario crossing the summer of 2006, Natalie took on a marathon swimming challenge of her own.

The summer of 2007, Natalie began her Swim the Difference Marathon, a 52 kilometre swim across Lake Ontario from Niagara on the Lake to Toronto. She began in 1 – 1 ½ foot waves, with a weather prediction of diminishing winds. With only 9 kilometres to go before completion, Natalie finally agreed to cancel her attempt. The winds continued to howl, creating pounding, 3 metre swells that caused her to become sea sick. Rather than risk her health, Natalie agreed to abort.

2 weeks later, Natalie was at it again. This little girl with a huge heart wasn’t going to let anything stand in the way of her finishing what she had started. With a route change to adjust for plummeting water temperatures, Natalie walked into Lake Ontario in Sacket’s Harbor, NY and began to power her way towards Kingston, 54 kilometers away. 23 hours and 15 minutes later, Natalie became a double world record holder when she became the youngest person to complete this crossing, as well as setting a new speed record.

Fortified with the lessons she learned during her marathon challenges last year, Natalie is at it again. July 6 2008 Natalie became the youngest and fastest swimmer to traverse Lake Erie, and the first to swim across Lake Erie using the grueling butterfly stroke. On or about July 21st, Natalie will be jumping in again, this time in order to complete the traditional crossing of Lake Ontario from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Toronto. The exact date for Lake Ontario will be selected closer to the actual event, when weather conditions can be considered.

During the summer of 2007, Natalie raised over $44,000 for her outstanding efforts and dedicated those funds to helping her teammates in the Y Knot Abilities Programs. Natalie and her sister Jenna are both members of this unique YMCA program that allows young people with physical disabilities and their able-bodied siblings to participate side by side in sport and recreational opportunities.

Natalie sees her marathon swimming as an opportunity to show everyone, no matter what their age or ability, that nothing is impossible, if you believe in yourself. She has set out to make a difference in this world, and at the age of 14, she is already well on her way.

Natalie wants to give something to her Y Penguins teammates, whom she watches face and overcome challenges every day. In what she calls the Swim the Difference Marathon, with a tag line of "Swimming the Distance to Make a Difference", Natalie plans to raise awareness for the Y Knot Abilities Programs and the Y Knot Tri, planned for August of this year.

Natalie has seen, first hand, the opportunities that have been provided to her, her sister, Jenna, and all the other families who participate in the innovative program developed at the Kingston Family YMCA by world-renowned marathon swimmer, Vicki Keith. The Y Knot Abilities Programs teach young people, with physical disabilities, and their siblings about abilities. Through sport, participants learn how to achieve success by keeping a positive attitude, setting goals and working hard to achieve them.


Natalie Lambert

The Y Knot Abilities Programs, which includes the Kingston Y Penguins, supports and encourages children, with physical disabilities, and their siblings to achieve new heights by strengthening their mind, body and spirit. "The Y Knot Abilities Programs are about building self-confidence. They are about showing young people that nothing is impossible – that, with hard work and determination, they can accomplish anything they set their mind on," said Vicki Keith, Natalie's coach.

Siblings of children with disabilities often grow up quicker than their peers. They learn when they are very young that their brother or sister may require extra parental time, assistance in completing tasks, or support moving about or carrying bags. Because of this, many of these children learn early to think of others before themselves. This is definitely true in Natalie's case.

Natalie and Jenna both see that one of the best aspects of the Y Knot Abilities Programs is that they can share in the joy of participating in something together. Natalie sees the value of the Y Knot Abilities Programs and the differences it has made in her and Jenna's lives, and she wants to help promote and support these programs so that many more children may benefit. At a time when the Y Knot Abilities Programs are expanding into YMCAs in central and southern Ontario, Natalie's efforts will help children not only in Kingston, but also in other communities where these programs are growing.

"Natalie is a highly-motivated athlete with a huge heart. She wants to make a difference in this world, and this is one of the ways in which she knows that she can help." Says Vicki of Natalie.

Natalie is already making a difference in many different aspects of her life. She volunteers at the Harrowsmith Free Methodist church in children's ministries, and is a core-group leader for the Junior Youth Group at her church. At school, she participates in many different team sports, and sits with the student council. She is an A student at Sydenham High School, excelling in math and sciences. Last year, she was selected as the class valedictorian as she graduated from elementary school. She is a respected leader on the Kingston Y Penguins Aquatic Club, and is a dedicated athlete who has achieved regional standards in competitive swimming. Her team-mates have honoured her with the nickname "Bulldog" as she is known for her persistence and determination. Her goal for the future is to attend medical school and become a doctor.

At only 14 years of age, Natalie has seen the importance of giving to others. The path that she has chosen will continue to allow her to help others. This is the start of an exceptional life.

Natalie is very excited about her 2nd opportunity at making the traditional crossing of Lake Ontario. She is determined to accomplish what she originally set out to achieve, and to prove once again to her teammates that no matter what their age or ability, with determination, nothing is impossible if you believe in yourself. The Kingston Y Penguins' slogan is "Penguins Can Fly", and Natalie's goal is to prove this to be true.

To support the Y Knot Abilities Program, please click on the Canada Helps button on this web page.