ERIE, Pennsylvania, September 7. SONYA Pyle, of Erie, Pa., completed a record-breaking swim across Lake Erie, arriving in 14 hours, 9 minutes on Aug. 6, 2007. Pyle beat the previous women's record of 15 hours, two minutes set in 2005. She became just the ninth person and the fourth woman to successfully complete the 23.8 mile swim from Long Point, Ontario to Freeport Beach in North East, Pa.
Pyle began her training in early November 2006 logging thousands of miles in the swimming pool until March when she took her training into Edinboro Lake and Lake Erie. The training was focused on the one goal and that was to break the women's record for swimming across Lake Erie. Pyle did not lose sight of that goal even after sinus infections, early morning and late evening swimming when time was available and a full time career as a hospital marketing coordinator.
Previous statistics have shown that the ideal conditions for a swim across Lake Erie usually occur during the first week of August. Pyle set her sights on that time frame and was able to gather the support to make it happen. Her uncle, Mike Farrell of Bradford, Pa., was the captain of the lead boat which also carried Laura McIntosh, M.D., Saint Vincent Sports Medicine Physician. Her fiance, Brad Whitman, best friend, Tara Skasick and co-worker, Stacy Knapp, rotated in two kayaks which helped to guide Pyle through 3-5 foot waves, other boat traffic including three freighters and then darkness.
Pyle took off from Long Point, Ontario at 8:10 a.m. on Saturday, August 6, 2007 and emerged onto Freeport Beach in North East, Pa., at 10:19 p.m. to a crowd of nearly 200 well wishers. A check of the GPS Systems after the swim showed that Pyle ventured off course by nearly two miles due to the strong waves and current. Her actual distance across the lake was 26.5 miles.
Pyle was a high school standout in swimming and softball at Bradford Area High School in Bradford, Pa. She continued her swimming career and added water polo at Gannon University, Erie, Pa., where she obtained a B.S. in advertising communications and B.S. in business administration. Pyle also played water polo for Syracuse University while obtaining her master's degree in public relations.
Pyle is currently a marketing coordinator for Saint Vincent Health System in Erie, Pa. She also coaches swimming and high school water polo.
Special thanks to Cyndy Patton for contributing this report.