Have you ever passed a body of water and thought to yourself, “I would love to row that”? For St. Catharines and Brock University rower Jacob Thomas, that thought came to him at 4:30am while biking alongside the Welland Canal to get to practice. Originally, Jacob wanted to row the 43km canal from Lake Erie to Lake Ontario. It was when Jacob saw all the danger of rowing in the canal that he turned to the possibility of rowing across Lake Ontario. With encouragement from Brandon Campbell and his friends, Jacob sought help in planning the 50km row.
With the increasing excitement of a Lake Ontario crossing in a single, Jacob used the popularity to raise money for the Sick Kids Foundation. “I chose the SickKids Foundation because of the amazing work they do, giving the most innocent thing in the world, a child, a fighting chance at life,” says Jacob. With that, the ‘Strokes for SickKids’ fundraiser was born. All that was left was the summer to train for the row and raise donations. With a successful summer season in the single working with coach Dr. John Gleddie, and winning a gold medal in the U23 quad for St. Catharines, it was time for Jacob to point his bow to Toronto.
Leaving Port Dalhousie in the darkness of the morning, Jacob and his safety boat made their way to Toronto. With the plan of taking a five minute break every hour to recover and replenish nutrition and hydration, Jacob made his way over the water. While there were some swells, Jacob managed to row right through, always making the most of his environment. With the final few kilometres, Jacob dug deep and fought through seizing hamstrings to make his way into the Toronto harbor towards the Toronto Argonaut Rowing Club. With an exclamation point, Jacob brought his stroke rate up for the last 100 metres of the row. Met by family, friends, and supporters, Jacob grabbed the dock to finish his 50km row.
Jacob would like to thank Brandon Campbell, Peter Somerwil and Mark Welsh, Mr. and Mrs. Schenck for the use of their boat, support staff Stacie, James and Kathryn Thomas, Kayla Blakely, and his friends, family, and supporters who motivated him the entire way.
Due to Jacob’s accomplishment, as well as his community involvement with ‘Strokes for SickKids’, we are very happy to announce that Jacob is this month’s DSA Peak Athlete of the Month.
If you wish to donate to ‘Strokes for SickKids’ please visit http://strokesforsickkids.com/