Woman swims in frigid N.S. lake for 30 days to help those in need

·3 min read

Kelly Loxdale welcomed 2021 by ending a chilly challenge she started 30 days ago.

Since December 3, she's been swimming in Frederick Lake near her Hubley, N.S., home to raise money for the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank in Halifax.

"One day I went out to swim and I couldn't even break the ice so I had to wait until my husband came home and stand on the ice, be my ice breaker, so I could get in at least a little bit and then get wet, lay down in the ice," she told CBC's Information Morning on Thursday.

Loxdale hoped her willingness to brave the frigid temperatures would inspire her friends and family to help her raise $450, enough to fill three of Parker Street's Christmas hampers.

She ended up collecting $10,430. Half of it came from an anonymous donor who volunteered to match the more than $5,000 she raised.

"I'm overwhelmed by the outpouring of care and compassion," Loxdale said. "It just tells you what kind of community we have."

Kelly Loxdale/Facebook
Kelly Loxdale/Facebook

Loxdale often swims in the lake near her house during the summer and fall. In November, she was still venturing into the water for the mental and physical health benefits, and decided to turn it into a personal challenge for a collective cause.

"I thought maybe I can raise awareness within my community, my family, my friends, and promote Parker Street, as well as raise awareness for food and housing and security in Nova Scotia and Halifax especially," she said.

"It's a great way to contrast my relative uncomfortableness and difficulties with those in our communities who are facing it and can't run back to a warm house or a hot shower and a cup of tea."

The weather during her 30-day challenge was unpredictable. Some days were unseasonably balmy, while others had temperatures that dipped well below zero.

Kelly Loxdale/Facebook
Kelly Loxdale/Facebook

"I try to get it done first thing in the morning," said Loxdale, who documented her dips on Facebook. "There is really no way to prepare it. I just go out and do it and get 'er done."

Every day, wading into the water got a little easier.

"I have acclimatized to it so it's really, you know, it's not that bad. It is cold. It is uncomfortable but my body seems to have adapted to it," she said.

Cynthia Louis, director of donor relations at Parker Street, said Loxdale's "brave" efforts are a huge help, especially during a year when so many more people are struggling.

The money will help Parker Street offer emergency financial assistance to people in need so they can keep their power on and stay warm.

"There's a song that says it only takes a spark to get a fire going, and Kelly is the spark and she got a fire going and brought awareness of food insecurity and poverty here in Halifax," Louis said.

Now that her challenge is complete - it finished on Friday - Loxdale has big plans for Day 31.

"I'm going to hold on to a big cup of tea and wrap myself in warm clothes and stare out at the lake in the morning knowing that I don't have to get into it."