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50 lakes in 50 days to celebrate 50 years

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Jane Hansen has spent nearly as much time swimming in the water as walking on land.

Growing up in Cape Cod, Mass., Hansen said being in the water felt natural — even when her mother wasn’t keen on the idea, she found a way to jump in.

“I always wanted to be in the water,” said Hansen, who has worked as the Brainerd YMCA aquatics coordinator since 1983. “And my mom really wasn’t a swimmer so instead of her having to go into the water after me when I was younger, she tied a rope to my back with a stake pounded into the beach where I could swim around until it was time for her to haul me in.

“Swimming is just something I’ve always loved to be doing.”

From being roped in the ocean to the pool at the YMCA in Brainerd, Hansen is preparing for another body of water for her next swim challenge — 50 lakes in 50 days.

“I love to swim in the lake,” said Hansen, who is preparing to raise money for the YMCA’s aquatics program and pool equipment by swimming one mile in 50 different area lakes in 50 days beginning June 29. “And I’m really excited about doing this. The distance doesn’t worry me because I swim quite a bit but I am worried about the weeds. I’d rather not swim in weeds.”

Going with the theme of ‘50’ in honor of the YMCA’s 50th anniversary this fall, Hansen will be joined by YMCA member Margaret Schaefer who will be kayaking the distance and lakes with her as the duo attempts to raise money with all proceeds towards the aquatic program.

“We’d like to get (a toy) alligator and our second goal would be to get rafts that kids can cross in the pool,” said Hansen, who added that together the items cost roughly $10,500. “The neat thing is that the company, Playtime, that makes the products are excited about this event and said they will give us a discounted price if we reach money for both items.

“But because they’re so big, I know that’s a lot to ask, so even if we raise enough money for the alligator — which is like $4,500 alone — we have tons of stuff like educational swim lesson toys, aqua jog belts and a swim team of 390 kids, so the money will not go unused.”

To make a donation visit or visit the Brainerd YMCA on Oak Street.

JESSI PIERCE, staff writer, may be reached at 855-5859 or Follow her on Twitter at (@jessi_pierce).