Cold weather not a problem for Lake Ontario swimmer Christopher Hope

Christopher Hope, 82, exits Lake Ontario after a recent morning swim. No matter the weather, Beach resident Hope swims n the lake every day. Photos by Alexandros Varoutas.

By ALEXANDROS VAROUTAS

The sun had just come up and it was a balmy two degrees Celsius when Christopher Hope, 82, exited his house in a bathrobe and a swim cap and made his way down to the beach.

Hope, a Beach resident for more than 12 years, discovered the activity through friends at the Toronto WindSurfing Club. Never one to back down from a challenge, he decided to adopt the practice on a daily basis, no matter the weather.

“I get out of bed, I make my bed, I get into my swimsuit, put on my swimming shoes, and walk down,” he told Beach Metro News.

The entire process runs like clockwork.

As he fights the icy cold waves, Hope constantly checks his watch as he nears his goal of 10 minutes. Once he’s done, there’s no time to chat as he says he’s mildly hypothermic and “totally incapacitated for about an hour.”

It’s out of the water and straight home to dry off and drink a litre of hot water.

Fauna Coates, a fellow windsurfer, recently joined Hope for a swim herself and, after taking the plunge, thinks she might just keep at it.

“The first time I did it in late fall, boy, I had energy all day!” she said.

Coates explains that there are many who enjoy the activity all along the beaches, with participation growing each year.

Many tout the health benefits of enduring the cold water, from helping with joint pain and inflammation to relieving fatigue.

But not all who swim are looking to cure an ailment.

When asked if he felt any mental or physical health benefits, Hope responded “absolutely zero for me, but everyone is different.”

For him, the only benefit is the excitement it adds to his life, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns.

“A lot of people are COVID bound and have nothing to talk about. Every day I go in, I can email some of my friends and tell them what it was like.”

This is all very fitting for a man whose hobbies include, but are not limited to, windsurfing, scuba diving, mountain climbing, and the occasional canoe trip from the arctic circle up to the arctic ocean.

His attitude towards challenges is simple: “It is just a matter of time to do anything.”

But when he’s not climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or fishing for arctic char up north, his favourite place to be is always back here in Toronto.

“We have one of the greatest recreational areas in the world along this Boardwalk,” said Hope. “This country is beyond belief. It’s got everything anybody ever wanted.”


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