“L.O.S.T. Swimming”, which stands for “Lake Ontario Swim Team” is an informal group of swimmers who swim in Lake Ontario in Oakville.
Rob Kent started the group in 2006 while training for his English Channel attempt. After doing all of his open water training for the Channel in Lake Ontario, Rob realized what many great swimmers from by-gone eras once knew… that Lake Ontario is a great place to swim!
In an effort to try and bring back open water swimming to one of the most famous bodies of water in open water history, Rob started LOST Swimming.
LOST Swimming started with a handful of friends who were triathletes, runners, a couple swimmers, as well as Rob and his family, who were also swimmers as well. In the summer of 2007, after Rob’s English Channel attempt, it wasn’t called “LOST Swimming”, as one of the originals put it, it was called “let’s meet at the lighthouse and go for a swim”. But gradually, word of mouth spread and the group grew. By the third summer, in 2008, the group was up to about 25 people. Then, with just a week’s notice, it was decided that there should be a race… and the ‘LOST Race’ was born. Although only 8 people were in the first LOST Race, and half of them being Kents, it was a lot of fun and it was decided that it would become an annual race. The race starts from the foot of Maple Grove Drive and goes for 3.8 km along some of the most beautiful homes and coastline in Canada, to the Navy St Pier in downtown Oakville. It is challenging distance and equal to the swim portion of an Ironman triathlon. The course is a safe and very scenic swim as it goes parallel to the shore, past dozens of multi-million dollar homes in one of Canada’s most beautiful and affluent neighbourhoods.
Word continued to spread over the winter and by the 4th summer of LOST Swimming, 2009, the group that received Rob’s weekly email was up to over 80 people. Which meant that anywhere from 6 or 8, to as many as 20 swimmers were showing up for the weekly swim! By 2019 there were over 225 annual members, and 200+ participants in the LOST Race too!
The idea was that LOST Swimming and the LOST Race would grow by word of mouth and by mid-August the word of the LOST Race had grown by much more than expected… there was a total of 39 swimmers in the second annual LOST Race! As the years went on the race grew to several hundred swimmers. We also included a shorter second race, The LOST Mile, to make the swim experience more inclusive for those that found the distance of the LOST Race a bit too big of a challenge.
The LOST Race took on a few traditions by this point. There was the ‘wetsuit’ and ‘naked’ (non-wetsuit) divisions. Several of the friends and relatives of the swimmers helped out. Many volunteered to ferry people and their clothing from the start to the finish. Several of the friends and relatives took to the water, but in a support role, manning several canoes and kayaks to keep the race as safe as possible. Even the Mayor of Oakville, Rob Burton, showed up to start the swimmers off and greet them as they touched the Canadian flag hanging over the pier to complete the race! Rob’s daughter, and one of the few ‘naked’ swimmers, Maisey Kent, became famous with the LOST Swimming crowd after creating awards for the first year. Maisey hand-painted a ‘finisher’s rock’ for each swimmer, as their award for completing the race. But by the second year she was devoting numerous hours on the weekends prior to the race to come up with enough painted Lake O rocks for all the finishers… and still she didn’t have enough! No one knew the word of the race would spread as widely as it did in the last few days. The race was a huge success, as all the times were recorded by Jillian Kent and sent out after the race. A great race shot of all the swimmers after the race has become a tradition as well and can be found on this site. The post-race “Pier Pic” has become an amazing tradition!
The goal of LOST Swimming and the LOST Race is to promote open water swimming in a fun, safe and competitive environment through a friendly, grassroots organization… and to make good use of our beautiful Lake O!
We are simply a group of swimmers of various abilities and backgrounds that enjoy (or are learning to enjoy) open water swimming. All are welcome! You can register on this website.
We swim from the Lighthouse in downtown Oakville on Saturday mornings at 8:00 am, from early June to mid September… hope to see you there!