It’s hard to describe the feeling of hitting land after spending almost 11 hours swimming or cheering on your swimming teammates. On Saturday August 11th, the OMSC Lake Monsters completed a roughly 35 km swim from Sechelt on the mainland to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. It took us 10 hours and 46 minutes. We were swimming alongside another team from Victoria who eventually pulled out of the swim when we hit rough currents and were told that we might not make it. Even when given the bad news we were determined to go on and we made it! We actually made it! We owe so much to our Navigator John Dafoe and our boat Captain Ann Clemence. They made it possible for us to complete the swim.
Paul, Phred, Denise, Mike, Tracy, and myself each swam one hour shifts and rotated through until we were able to complete the swim. Although we had good weather, there were some big waves in the middle of the straight, along with the strong current that put us in danger of not being able to complete the swim. It was a day that required us all to battle our own physical and mental demons.
The MVP awards of the day go to Phred and Tracy. Phred was swimming with severe tendonitis in his elbow. Even though he was in pain, he was more concerned about letting down his team than about his own discomfort and didn’t tell us until afterwards just how tough the swim had been for him.
And Tracy not only had to deal with the worst of the currents when we got close to Nanaimo, she also had to deal with suddenly being a tourist attraction to the people on the Nanaimo ferries! The boats came in close for a good look at what we were doing, which meant that she had to deal with some considerable boat roll whenever they came by!
After my nerves about encountering sea life, we were pretty much left alone, some seals checked us out from their spots sunning themselves on nearby islands and a few jelly fish were spotted, and I heard some dolphins at one point during my swim but we never spotted them (which did play a little havoc on me mentally to be able to hear them but not see them!).
I can’t speak for my teammates, but completing the Salish Sea swim had a huge impact on me and my confidence. I realized that I could tough it out mentally and physically, even when my arms were screaming and sore during my second shift, I was able to push myself beyond anything I thought I was capable of. And being out in the middle of the strait, not knowing what sea life was around me or below me, was pretty scary. I realized I had to just shut down all thoughts of my fears and concentrate on each stroke. I’m not a natural athlete, and no one who looked at me would think I was, but I proved something to myself on Saturday about my abilities.
So I ask you, if a chubby girl like me can swim the Georgia Strait, and attempt the English Channel next year, what could you be doing that you aren’t?
Something that you can do, is help us with our fundraising goals for the Y Strong Kids Campaign. As part of our journey towards the English Channel we’re raising money for the campaign that allows underprivileged children access to all of the Y programs (including swim lessons) and gives them memberships to the facilities. Swimming the Georgia Strait was our first challenge in our fundraising efforts, but we’ll continue to challenge ourselves between now and the English Channel next summer. If you would like to help our team and help the children please go to our team fundraising page here. Any amount of money that you could spare would be greatly appreciated!
(All photos provided courtesy of Angelique Duffield at www.BrightSparkMedia.ca)