Anglers give more than anyone else in club member's benefit swim

ORILLIA, Ontario — Wil Wegman had plenty of motivation when he competed on Lake Couchiching in the 4-km Sun City Swim in August to raise funds for a new neonatal care unit at Soldiers Memorial Hospital.

The Aurora Bassmasters club member strongly believed in the cause he was swimming for because both of his sons were born prematurely and required extra care at neonatal hospital units. He also had the backing of his club, which donated $350 from its general funds toward his challenge.

“We support several charity events throughout the year, and I was pleasantly surprised when the president put forward a motion for the club to sponsor my swim,” Wegman said.

Wegman noted he might have been the “only hardcore bass angler” in the swim, so he targeted his fundraising campaign “almost exclusively” to the angling community. “They allowed me to raise more funds than any of the other swimmers,” he said.

Because he raised more than $2,000 more than the rest of the swimmers, Wegman won a custom-made cedar Muskoka Chair. In all, 73 swimmers raised $20,000 for the charity.

The Nation angler placed 17th in the event with a time of 1 hour, 35 minutes and 30 seconds. During the swim, Wegman was accompanied by his younger son, Izaak, who paddled along in his kayak. Wegman’s older son, Tyler, also paddled in a kayak serving as a mandatory spotter for a family friend.

Wegman, 53, has been fishing bass tournaments on Couchiching since the 1980s and considers it one of his favorite lakes. He plans on competing in the swim again next year to better his time and open a challenge for other Ontario B.A.S.S. Nation anglers to enter the event.