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Sean Nuttall during a recent practice swim session. Nuttall plans to start the marathon swim on August 13.Handout

The organizer: Sean Nuttall

The pitch: Raising $50,000

The cause: To fund research into neurodegenerative diseases

Sean Nuttall has done a lot of marathon swims in recent years, including crossing the English Channel and circumnavigating the island of Manhattan. But this weekend he’s taking on an even bigger challenge – swimming 100 kilometres across Lake Ontario from Toronto to St. Catharines and back.

He’s doing the swim in memory of his father, Toronto lawyer Robert Nuttall, who died five years ago from a debilitating neurodegenerative disease. His father died within months of being diagnosed and there were few treatment options.

Mr. Nuttall is hoping to raise $50,000 for the University of Toronto’s Tanz Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases. “I’ve done series of swims for charity usually to raise money for criminal-justice reform,” said Mr. Nuttall, 43, who was born in Toronto but is now a public defender in New York. “I wanted to do something different to commemorate my father’s passing.”

Mr. Nuttall played water polo in university and he took up open water swimming in 2014. Since then he has managed some of the world’s toughest swims, but this one is the most gruelling yet.

He’ll be in the water for up to 50 hours and if everything goes according to plan, his Lake Ontario crossings will be the longest unassisted open-water swim in Canada or by a Canadian. As he explained; unassisted means without the help of tides, currents, a wetsuit or any flotation device.

Mr. Nuttall has been swimming around 90 kilometres a week in training and he’s under no illusions about how hard the journey will be. “I’ll use the cause and the memory of my dad to try to motivate myself through what’s going to be a pretty unpleasant 35 to 50 hours,” he said.

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