Cottager swims laps for church

A map pointer with the image of a church
 on October 1, 2020

‘It’s very inspirational’

Anglicans in the diocese raised money in lots of different ways this past summer despite COVID-19, but Grace Olds’s efforts were probably the most unusual.

Throughout July and August, Ms. Olds, 91, swam laps at her cottage near Minden to raise money for her home church of St. Paul the Apostle, Rexdale.

Grace Olds enters the water and swims a lap, accompanied by her son.

Almost every day, Ms. Olds entered the waters of Canning Lake and swam from the dock to the raft and back, a distance of about 100 feet. She usually swam between four and 10 laps a day, always accompanied by one or more family members.

By Sept. 5, she had swum 407 laps. With the sponsorship of parishioners, friends and family members, she raised more than $3,000.

Ms. Olds, who has rheumatoid arthritis, has been swimming for about 20 years to help her with her condition. At her home in Toronto, she swam at the local public pool several times a week until it was closed in March due to COVID-19.

“People want me to exercise to stay alive,” she says. “I’m not much at walking, so swimming is the best exercise.”

St. Paul’s annual walk-a-thon, which raises funds for the church, had to be held online this summer due to COVID-19. Ms. Olds, who has been swimming laps at her cottage for years, thought she could turn her daily routine into a fundraising venture.

“It’s very gratifying,” she says. “I feel very close to St. Paul’s. The people are so warm and friendly. It’s a very special place.”

Her daughter, Rachel Steffler, says she is proud of her mom. “It’s very inspirational,” she says. “She puts us all to shame!”


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