City / Great Lake swimming

Taking the Plunge

Cherry BeachWell, we did it. Our first dip of the summer was on May 27. That’s the earliest I have ever immersed myself in Lake Ontario. When winter ends there is always a lag on the Great Lakes between air and water temperature; the lakes are slow to warm in the spring. We know that, but the heat and pea soup humidity around here drove us to the beach. Calm waters and hot sunshine made the cold easier to take. Call it extreme refreshment. It was exhilarating. Lake ON temp graphic w swimmers full

Cherry beach lifeguard stationWe chose Cherry Beach, where the cherry trees were in full bloom, as was a lovely fragrant apple which obviously did not feel itself excluded by the beach’s name. The water temp there is likely to be slightly warmer because the beach is partially enclosed by the Leslie St Spit. Our faithful rubber ducky thermometer measured the temp at 16°C – about the same temp as last October for our final lake swim of the year on Thanksgiving. I expected it to be colder.

It’s a delicate balance of pleasure/discomfort between the numbing cold and the delight of buoyancy in water and sun on our faces. Within a few seconds every fat cell in my upper arms was tingling and going numb, but that passed as we swam. Just us and a few ducks paddling around. We lasted about fifteen minutes and then got out and went looking for a hot coffee. But we’ll be back again soon, and often. The forecast is for a hot summer, and Lake Ontario is cool.Cherry Beach from the street

– Schuster Gindin
Photos by Suzanne Long

This article can be found in THE BIG ISSUES in the section Great Lake Swimming and in  WHAT’S HERE in the section The City.
Read our exploration of all Toronto’s beaches here.

See an animated graphic of the current Lake Ontario temperature here, courtesy of the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory of the National Weather Service.


What a perfect day.  Can’t wait to take my plunge!
Linda Perez, Toronto 

Gotta try it in the next couple of days.
Herman Rosenfeld, Toronto

Marion Endicott, Toronto

Wow aren’t you brave! With this crazy hot weekend though I’m sure others will join you for that refreshing dip.
Carol Phillips, Barrie, ON



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s