41 Countries. 51 Sports. 7500 Athletes. 32 Venues. 1 Great Lake.
The 2015 Pan Am and Parapan American Games are finally here. This is the largest sporting event in Ontario’s history, and subsequently, for Lake Ontario.
This won’t be the first time in the Lake’s history that it has had thousands of spectators. From the huge crowds at the CNE marathon swims in the 1930s, to Marilyn Bell’s record-breaking swim in 1954, people have a long history with Lake Ontario. But it will be the largest sporting event in the lake’s history.
Five different sports, at two different venues will be taking place on Lake Ontario, including open-water swimming, sailing, water-skiing, wakeboarding, and the swimming portion of the triathlon. Three other open water sports at three different venues will take place in the watershed, including canoe and kayak slalom and sprint events, and rowing.
The only other time a Pan Am sporting event was held on a Great Lake was at the 1959 games in Chicago, when sailing took place on Lake Michigan.
The first venue is the Ontario Place West Channel, part of CIBC Pan Am Park. Although the swimming channel is man-made, the water certainly is not. The waterfront course will host the men’s and women’s 10-kilometre, and triathlon 1500m open water swimming events, as well as the waterski & wakeboard competitions.
Sailing will also take place on Lake Ontario, hosted by The Royal Canadian Yacht Club. From July 12 to 17, 10 different sailing preliminary events in a variety of boats including windsurfers, dinghies, catamarans and keelboats will take place. On July 18 and 19, the sailing finals will occur in the inner harbour of Lake Ontario and will be visible from Sugar Beach. Not only is this the first time a Pan Am event is taking place along a downtown city’s waterfront, but it is also completely free!
As you move off the lake and up into the watershed, there are even more sporting events connected to Lake Ontario.
The most northern venue of the Pan Am games is the Minden Wild Water Preserve on the Gull River. This venue will host the kayak slalom events and the canoe slalom is making its Pan Am debut. This venue marks another Pan Am first - the canoe/kayak slalom competition is held on a natural whitewater course. This course is considered one of the top whitewater courses in the world. The river flows into the Trent system, which empties into Lake Ontario.
West of Toronto, two more open water events are occurring in the Lake Ontario Watershed.
Rowing is being held at the Royal Canadian Henley Rowing Course in St. Catharines. This course takes place on the open waters of Martindale Pond, which is part of the Twelve Mile Creek System. It was created by the construction of the Welland Canal. Prestige comes with this venue, as it boasts North America’s largest rowing regatta, and has hosted the World Rowing Championships twice.
The Welland Pan Am Flatwater Centre is the southernmost venue of the Pan Am games and it is hosting the canoe and kayak sprinting events on the Welland Canal. The man-made canal connects Lake Ontario and Lake Erie and its calm waters make it idea for the fast-paced sport.
Whether you are an athlete competing in a Pan Am open water sporting event or a spectator, you are part of history in the making this summer. On behalf of Waterkeeper, welcome to Lake Ontario – The Lake of Shining Waters.
Facts About Lake Ontario
- Lake Ontario is one of the five Great Lakes, which make up the largest system of freshwater in the world.
- It is the 14th largest lake in the world.
- More Canadians live in the Lake Ontario watershed than any other watershed in the country.
- 9 million people get their drinking water from Lake Ontario.