Meet Sara Chojnicki

Sara is a long-time water enthusiast and experienced scuba diver. This year she will be joining the Lake Erie Challenge for the first time via stand-up-paddle board. Learn more about Sara's connection with the water and motivations for taking this year's Challenge.

Hi Sara! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Hi! Thank you so much for meeting with me! I’m super excited to do the Lake Erie Challenge.  I’ve been paddle boarding for about 3 years now, so I’m fairly new to the sport, but not new to water sports. I really love anything to do with the water. I've been scuba diving for a long time, about 18 years. I also lived overseas and did a lot of surfing as well. Basically anything to do with water I enjoy. When I discovered paddle boarding, I really fell in love with it. I recently purchased a race paddle board so I am now able to work out while paddling which is great!!

You’ll be paddling 25km - that’s an impressive distance! What’s your experience like with long distance paddles?

I recently did the Molokai to Oahu virtual race and that was 25.75km, however we did do that in a river with current so I’m still a little nervous for the Lake Erie Challenge because it’s out on the open water and conditions could change quickly. It’s going to be quite the challenge but that’s the name of the game! I’m really looking forward to it and being able to push myself, raise money, and create awareness about the issues Lake Erie is having. 

Do you have a favourite memory of Lake Erie?

Probably my first-time scuba diving there 17 or 18 years ago. We couldn’t really find the marker in the water, so we got to the site late and into the water as the sun was setting which was really neat but also a little daunting. As we were coming up out of the water it was almost dark out. I made the rookie mistake of taking my goggles off and then losing them in the water. The shipwreck that we dove had a lot of history to it. All in all it was a very memorable experience! We are in Lake Erie all the time with the kids though, so we have made  a lot of good memories, many of them paddle boarding!!

What made you want to get involved in the Lake Erie Challenge?

A friend of mine, who has been like a paddling mentor to me, Brad Petrus, did it last year and asked me if I would be interested to join the team. I think it’s really awesome that people are out there doing things to help. There is a huge problem with all of the world’s water, not just Lake Erie and being so passionate about the water - I figure that anytime that I can do something hands on to help, I’m game. I’m really excited to do this and try to make a difference and be part of such an amazing team of people who all have the same goal! 

What threats to the Lake’s health really concern you?

I think that really, all of them are concerning. First of all, the cleanliness of the water concerns me. My kids swim in the lake all the time, and also people use that water for drinking, it is really important to keep it safe. It’s a huge issue. Also, the algae blooms caused by global warming killing fish and wildlife - I think all of it is really concerning to me as a whole.

We have three amazing teams that are a part of the challenge this year - Team Caldwell, Team SUP, and Team Wingfoil. What does it mean to you to come together with other Lake Erie citizens for this challenge?

It means a lot. I think it’s awesome to be able to break into this community and meet a network of like-minded people who care so much about Lake Erie. So far it’s been a really great experience and I’m looking forward to meeting new people and building relationships with people who share the same values. 

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