Coach Vicki Keith believes in the value of offering large challenges for the participants so they, the families and the community can see and focus on the abilities.

Over the years these have included, our annual 24 hour relay numerous marathon swims and the Y Knot Tri where we swam, biked and handcycled, ran, walked and wheel from Toronto to Ottawa.

Excitement from the participants to be involved in a huge challenge and passion from the leaders to guide the way, feeds the whole process. It’s true that it takes time for some to come fully on board, but it’s hard to ignore the excitement as the event rolls forward and soon, everyone is on board.

The athletes train and get physically and emotionally involved. They begin to work as a team to achieve their goal. By the time they have accomplished the goal, they look back and realize that they once thought the goal was unachievable and unrealistic and here they are at the finish line having achieved the impossible.

This mindset is so prevalent on the Y Penguins now, that usually the parents and athletes don’t question the possibility of a goal they decide they want to achieve it, and get busy at achieving it.

This is a very valuable aspect of our program. Teaching mindset, positive attitude, belief in possibilities are the attributes that make the impossible become possible. Being able to step into our world with this knowledge helps our athletes take on new challenges and overcome daily obstacles to find success.

Past Special Fundraising Events

The Y Penguins embrace the opportunity to give back to their YMCA. Special fundraising events that the participants have undertaken have raised over $600,000 for the YMCA. These events include:

Y Knot Marathon:

John Munro set the speed record of the south to north crossing of Lake Erie and swam the longest single crossing and the first crossing on the east end of Lake Ontario. He raised $85,000 for the YMCA of Kingston and the Y Penguins.

The Million Dollar Marathon:

Vicki Keith came out of marathon swimming retirement to swim 80 kilometer in 63 hours and 40 minutes of continuous swimming. She set two world records, the distance butterfly record and the longest period of time in open water. Vicki raised over $260,000 for the YMCA of Kingston and the Y Penguins bringing her lifetime fundraising total to over 1,000,000.

 Kid 4 Kids Marathon:

Y Penguin Jenna Lambert swam 34 kilometers across Lake Ontario. She became the first female with a disability to swim across Lake Ontario. The epic swim from NY to Kingston took 32 hours and 18 minutes and raised $210,000 for the Y MCA of Kingston and the Y Penguins.

Swim The Difference Marathon:

Y Penguin Natalie Lambert became the youngest person to swim across Lake Erie and the first person to swim it butterfly.  She then went on to attempt to become the youngest person to swim the traditional crossing of Lake Ontario but ran into huge weather challenges. The swim was moved to the east end of Lake Ontario where Natalie set the record of becoming the youngest person to swim across Lake Ontario at 14 years and 27 days old. Natalie raised $60,00 for the YMCA of Kingston and the Y Penguins.

2 Journey’s 1 Dream:

Sisters Jenna and Natalie Lambert partnered up for a summer of challenges. Natalie undertook numerous marathon swims of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario and Jenna completed a huge triathlon from Belleville to Ottawa.


Y Knot Tri:

The Y Penguins undertook a huge 420 kilometer triathlon from Toronto to Ottawa. Coach Vicki Keith swam from Toronto to Port Hope where she passed the baton to sisters Jenna and Natalie Lambert. Jenna and Natalie cycled and hand cycled side by side from Port Hope to Brockville. In Brockville, they passed the baton to a group of young Y Penguins who ran walked and wheeled from Brockville to Ottawa in relay fashion.

Tri Till You Cry:

8 athletes joined together to race the longest triathlon ever completed. The ultra distance triathlon saw the athletes rotate between a 2 hour run, a 2 hour bicycle and a 2 hour swim continuously until the athletes resigned. The event lasted for 74 hours when the last athlete decided to end her efforts. Funds were raised for the Y Penguins, Easter Seals and The Hotel Dieu’s Child Development Centre.

The Great Lake Adventure:

An 8 person relay team of Y Penguins covered 65 kilometers in 24 hours setting a world record for the greatest distance covered by an 8 person relay team in open water. The team consisted of 4 athletes with physical disabilities and 4 able bodied athletes ranging in age from 13-53.

The Y Penguins also host two annual events:

The Big Chill

The Y Penguins host one swim meet each year called the Big Chill. It is scheduled for the 2nd Saturday in February. It runs from 1:00-7:00 pm. All Y Penguin members are included in this event, with parents volunteering to officiate, catering food and supporting their athletes while the athletes compete. Often 3 or 4 local clubs attend the meet as well as the Variety Village Flames from Toronto. The Big Chill is the largest age group para-swimming event in the province and possibly the country.

24 Hour Relay

The 24 Hour Relay is a marathon style, charitable event where Y Penguin team members swim in relay fashion for an entire 24 hour period. The Y Penguins raise $8.000 – $10,000 each year in support of their team and team-mates.

Traditionally, the Y Penguins 24 Hour Relay run on the 3rd weekend of October from Friday, at 3:30 pm until Saturday, at 3:30 pm

Epic events like these helps reinforce the premise that nothing is impossible. For young people and their families who have faced challenges from the very beginning, events like these strengthen the prime focus of our team: nothing is impossible with hard work and determination – Penguins Can Fly!