Swimming the Salish Sea: Part 1

The OMSC Lake Monsters are now less than a year away from our English Channel attempt, so in preparation we’ll be swimming a practice run closer to home by attempting to cross the Georgia Strait. The Salish Sea swim takes place every August (this year it will be on August 11th) and will have us swimming from Sechelt on the mainland to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.

Happily, all of us are now healthy and injury free, so all 6 of us will be swimming according to English Channel rules. That means we only wear a swimsuit, cap, and goggles in the 15C water and we each swim for an hour at a time in rotation. Each incoming swimmer will have to pass the previous swimmer in the water before the first swimmer can get back on the safety boat. We will be accompanied by an experienced boat captain and will have an EMT on board, as well as Coast Guard support.

Practicing for the Strait in Okanagan Lake on a windy day. Photo by Angelique Duffield at www.BrightSparkMedia.ca

This year we will be one of three relay teams taking part in the swim. One is a team of 2 women from Vancouver Island, and the other is a team of 4 men from Vancouver. The Victoria team has challenged the rest of us to a race, the slowest team across the Strait buys the celebratory drinks afterwards. The swim will take us roughly 35km across the Strait, but currents, wind, and waves could make it much longer. We are expecting to complete the swim in 9-12 hours depending on the conditions, which will require each of us to swim 3km or more per hour.

In addition to the challenge of the swim itself, we will also have to deal with the potential issues of seasickness (it will be dangerous for us to become dehydrated), stinging jellyfish, and the mental test of swimming in the deep dark sea. Last year two local swimmers completed the swim as part of a 4-woman relay team.  You can read about their wild experience here.

With the swim being just about a week away I am excited but nervous. Whiplash has kept me out of the water for the past month, which means that I am not as conditioned as I should be. Also I’m worried about the seasickness. I’ve never had a problem with it before but I really don’t want to spend my rest time on the boat hurling over the railing. Usually when I travel to the island I always want to see killer whales, but this time they can stay away. I don’t want to be mistaken for a nice yummy seal (although I guess the wetsuited swimmers on the other relay teams are more in danger of that).

Once I am home and recovered from the swim I will write all about it and post pictures in Part 2. If you can’t wait that long to find out whether it is the Vancouver or Victoria team that buys us drinks afterwards then you can check out my blog. I’ll update it throughout the day on August 11th.

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