a sign reading 'Beyond Horizons' on a pool deck as Allert swims front crawl
Allaert dubbed her fundraising swim Beyond Horizons

A fourth-year University of Guelph student has helped raise awareness and funds for youth mental health by swimming 30 kilometres in 12 hours.

Coralee Allaert, 22, had hoped to swim across Lake Erie this past summer to raise money for Jack.org, a national organization that educates and provides mental health resources and training for young people.

She had been training since last winter, swimming at the U of G pool with the varsity team as well as on Lakes Erie, Ontario and Huron for eight to 12 hours a week. Her goal had been to cross Lake Erie using an untried route.

Bad weather forced her to delay an August date for the swim that she had dubbed the #BeyondHorizons challenge. Two more planned attempts were also cancelled due to storms.

A woman in a swimcap stands in a pool and smiles for the camera from
Coralee Allaert at the 11.5-hour mark
(Photo from Larry Optis)

On Oct. 26, Allaert finally completed her mission, swimming 30 kilometres at an indoor pool in Mississauga, Ont. The distance was equivalent to her planned Lake Erie crossing.

There to support her was Larry Optis, an elite cyclist and long-time supporter of Jack.org who has served as a mentor to Allaert since she was a pre-teen and now as her coach.

More than $6,500 in pledges was raised for Jack.org.

Speaking to CTV Kitchener, Allaert said, “Every hour I swam for an individual who lost their life to suicide.”

While a lake swim was not in the cards this year, the arts and sciences student plans to attempt a Great Lake crossing in 2022 accompanied by a boat crew and supported by Solo Swims of Ontario.

When she does, she writes on her fundraising page, she knows she won’t be alone.

“I’ll be swimming to inspire others and be a part of the mental health revolution and take steps to make stigma a thing of the past.”