Stroke by stroke, Sherri Mason is trying to make her favorite Great Lake, greater.
She's preparing to swim over 12 miles across Lake Erie, from Sturgeon Point to Crystal Beach.
It's a feat that's been accomplished before, but Mason knows the lake a little better than most. She's a researcher at SUNY Fredonia.
“It started because I studied plastic pollution in fresh water systems, specifically in the Great Lakes,” said Sherri Mason.
Mason’s work was vital to help ban microbeads, often found in soaps, which damaged fresh water ecosystems.
Originally, this swim was to raise awareness about plastics pollution. Now, it's all about funding.
President Trump's proposal to eliminate the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative upset Mason.
“If we don't have fresh water we don't have life,” said Mason.
She says for the economic and environmental health of the Great Lakes, organizations like the EPA need to remain funded. The proposed federal budget would cut funding for the agency.
“We've come this far because of those agencies. We really need to continue that support,” said Mason.
Mason will traverse the lake next month. Her support crew will take samples as they go for future research.
She just wants the money and regulations that made Lake Erie clean enough to swim in again, to stay put.
“We have this here and all we need to do is protect it,” said Mason.