Young teen plans to swim across Lake Erie

Wilmot Aces' Julia Notebomer hopes to become the youngest person to swim across Lake Erie on August 30, her 14th birthday. (Contributed photo) jpg, TN

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If successful, Stratford teen Julia Notebomer will become the youngest person to swim across Lake Erie. She will attempt the feat on August 30, her 14th birthday.

“You have to be 14 in order to do the swim, so she will put the record down if she can do it,” said Tillsonburg’s Joni Maerten-Sanders, her Wilmot Aces swim team coach. “It’s the 20-km route from Sturgeon Point, New York to Crystal Beach (between Fort Erie and Port Colborne).

As of July 17, the U.S. border agency had granted permission for her to swim across the east side of Lake Erie, but they were still waiting for confirmation from the Canadian side.

Technically, Maerten-Sanders noted she will only be in the United States for a brief moment.

“She’s not necessarily going to be ‘in’ the States, really. We’re looking at boating across, then she would just jump in, touch the shoreline and start swimming. The U.S. said ‘no problem’ and that they would help contact the Canadian border services.”

Maerten-Sanders, and her family, who have assisted several swimmers over the years crossing Lake Erie, will be with Notebomer on boats when she makes the crossing.

Notebomer, who is raising funds for Make-A-Wish, has set up Waves for Wishes 2020 on social media sites.

“Her and her family have done a lot of volunteer stuff,” said Maerten-Sanders.

“She’s done the North Shore Challenge since she was 10 – the first year she did the 1-km. Really liked it, then did the 3.5-km and last year she attempted the 10-km but the water was like 11 C. She made 7 km in a wetsuit, but she was freezing. She did swim a 12.8-km river swim last year and loved it. That kind of gave her the motivation to be able to do this swim. A week ago, she swam 7.7-km in Lake Ontario.”

Notebomer started swimming with the Wilmot Aces in the New Hamburg area when she was six, and has been active with the team ever since.

“She is a competitive swimmer – regional level. She makes regionals every year. Her best event is 400 IM, and the distance freestyle.”

Individuals and businesses wishing to donate can visit For more information, see Waves for Wishes 2020 on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, or email

“When this (COVID-19 pandemic) all first started, I had meetings with the kids online,” said Maerten-Sanders. “And I said to them, ‘go do something special for somebody.’ Like paint a rock, put it outside. A lot of the younger kids, like one who lives here in Tillsonburg, did pictures on the sidewalks every day. Julia decided to write cards to a seniors place in Stratford, and the lady started writing back. So they’ve been writing through the whole pandemic.”