Paula (Stephanson) Duggan is on a very short list. In fact, there are only 2 people in the world who can claim the same accomplishment as Paula, with the other being the highly-decorated Vicki Keith, who in her swimming career successfully crossed all 5 of the Great Lakes and is a member of the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame.
Paula was born on June 16, 1979 in Belleville, Ontario, and got her feet wet as a member of the Belleville Youth Swim Team, where she was a participant and a coach.
Her monumental achievement of swimming across all 5 of the Great Lakes started in August of 1996, when Lake Ontario was conquered. A 2 year wait occurred before Lake Erie fell in July of 1998, followed by another 2-year span prior to taking on Lake Huron in August of 2000. Amazingly enough, Paula then waited 7 years before Lake Superior was added to the list in 2007. The 5th of the Great Lakes – Michigan – was added to her accomplishments in August of 2009, allowing Paula to join Vicki Keith as one of only two swimmers in the world to swim all 5 of the Great Lakes.
Throughout her swimming career, Paula also had time to be on the Brock University Badgers Swim Team, coach swimming programs in Ottawa and win the prestigious Lemmet River Race in Switzerland.
Recognition of Paula’s achievements as a swimmer include twice being Belleville’s Athlete of the Year (Robinson Kelleher Memorial Award), being honored by a parade in her home town and receiving the Keys to the City on 2 occasions. She is recognized in Peter Gzowski’s book – Morningside Years – and in the 2010 edition of Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
Paula was the 2010 winner of the Cliff Lumsden Award of Solo Swims and is a member of the Solo Swim Association.
She now lives in Ottawa, with her husband Andrew and children Oliver and Leah.0