Posts in Sports

Five Hole For Food Kelowna 2014

Every year, Five Hole for Food travels the country playing ball hockey for local food banks. To prepare for such a long journey, you need a good warm-up, so we’re headed to Kelowna to kick things off a little early, and take advantage of that early summer that the Okanagan has to offer.

The idea is simple: to take part and play some street hockey, all you need is a hockey stick and a can of food. We’ll supply the rest. Think of it as a giant game of drop-in hockey: hang out and play for 5 minutes or the full 4 hours! All age and skill levels are welcome!

Meet us at Stuart Park Plaza between 1:00PM-5:00PM on June 7th and bring your donation for the Kelowna Community Food Bank. Let’s play hockey for food!

This event benefits the Kelowna Community Food Bank Society. In 1983, the Kelowna Community Food Bank Society set up operation in a church basement to meet emergency food needs for the community. Over the next two decades, the Kelowna Food Bank grew from serving 600 people per year to nearly 2, 500 individuals per month, with nearly a third of them children under age 16.

Checking In with the Lake Monsters: The Team Has Changed but Cold Water Remains the Same

We are 110 days away from our English Channel attempt and we’ve had some big changes on the team. Our teammate Paul spent his winter ice swimming. That involves swimming in water below 5 degrees Celsius, in just a speedo! After swimming a mile in those conditions in December, Paul became Canada’s first official Ice Swimmer, which gained him international attention.

Paul Duffield swimming in the frigid lake this winter. Photo courtesy of Angelique Duffield

Paul Duffield swimming in the frigid lake this winter. Photo courtesy of Angelique Duffield

Since then, Paul has decided to pursue other goals related to Ice Swimming and will not be joining us on the Channel. (More to come about that in a future post.)

So the Lake Monsters are down to five! It means that we’ll each have to swim additional legs of the relay so we have all stepped up our training and will continue to do so over the next couple months. My teammate Phred and I have also begun the acclimatization process again. We got in the lake last weekend on a stormy day. The air temp was 10 degrees and the lake temp was 9! It was a shock after spending the winter in the pool. We spent 20 minutes in the water and will keep adding 10 minutes per week.

Phred and I get in the lake on a stormy, dreary day. Photo courtesy of Ashley Russo.

Phred and I get in the lake on a stormy, dreary day. Photo courtesy of Ashley Russo.

In addition to the swimming and time in the gym that we’ll be putting in over the next couple months, we are also raising money for the Y Strong Kids Campaign. Our lives have been made immeasurably better because of our access sports (and of course, swimming) and we want to make that possible for local children as well. As part of our fundraising campaign, my teammate Phred has designed a Lake Monsters toque and we are selling them for $20 each with all proceeds going to the Y Campaign.


I know it’s spring and everyone is thinking about beach gear but as they say on Game of Thrones “Winter is Coming.” So get yourself a stylish toque for next year and support a worthy local charity while you’re at it. If you would like to buy a toque please email Phred at:

Confessions of a Fat English Channel Swimmer

I’m not a skinny girl. I never have been. Ever. I blame genetics, my love of sweets, and stress eating. Like most people, my weight has gone up and down. I ballooned in junior high where I experienced a fair bit of bullying and fat-shaming. Throughout my 20’s I steadily got back into exercise and slimmed down and in the last couple years I have been the smallest I have ever been. Not skinny, but average.

'Slim' me competing at Provincials in 2012. Photo by Angelique Duffield

‘Slim’ me competing at Provincials in 2012. Photo by Angelique Duffield

So English Channel preparation has been a bit of a challenge for my body image. I’ve put back on 20 pounds. I was only aiming for 15 to help protect me from developing hypothermia in the cold Channel, but my body was quite happy to throw on the extra 5. Even with the extra weight I’m healthy. I swim 3-4 times a week and workout with a trainer at the gym. I just completed my English Channel medical where a stress test not only found me to be healthy, but the cardiologist said I had an athlete’s heart.

So what’s the problem? The problem is that even though I purposefully put on the pounds and am healthy, I still hate that I had to go out and buy new jeans because I couldn’t fit into my old ones. I hate that when I look into the mirror I dislike what I see. And I hate that some days when I look at myself I can hear the taunts of bullies past: “Could you get ANY fatter?”

Me, December 2012, 20 pounds heavier

Me, December 2012, 20 pounds heavier

I would happily keep these embarrassingly personal admissions to myself, but I’ve been disturbed recently by other, more public episodes of fat-shaming in the media. For example, Melissa McCarthy being called a “female hippo” and “tractor-sized” in a recent movie review as though her weight is her defining (and apparently horrifying) feature rather than the fact that she is an amazingly talented and funny actress. Or Australian Olympic Champion Leisel Jones being called out at the 2012 summer Olympics as being “too fat to swim.” What message do these episodes send out to women and girls? If you are not skinny you are not worthy, even if you are a talented actress or have won 8 Olympic medals.

To me, these women are both amazing role models who should be celebrated for their accomplishments. But that isn’t how our society works, and examples such as these remind me that when I walk out the door people are judging me by the size of my body, not by what I am trying to achieve with it.

So I struggle. I have days when I’m proud of my body and the results I achieve in the pool or the gym with it. But I also have days when I am ashamed of it. Nevertheless, I will continue to let myself be photographed at this weight, in a very vulnerable state… in a swimsuit. I hope that even if I continue to struggle with my body image, maybe someone else will see the picture and think “Wow! Look what she’s achieved!” rather than “Wow, look how much she weighs!”

Me getting ready to take my shift while swimming the Georgia Strait in August 2012. Photo by Angelique Duffield

Me getting ready to take my shift while swimming the Georgia Strait in August 2012. Photo by Angelique Duffield

World Snow Day 2013

The second annual World Snow Day took off worldwide this previous Sunday celebrating all things snow. The event is organized by the International Ski Federation, known in French as the Fédération Internationale de Ski — or FIS for short. The Okanagan’s very own Big White Ski Resort hosted several of its own events this year to show its appreciation of the white fluffy stuff that provides recreation to its visitors every year.

On January 20th activities were happening simultaneously all over the mountain throughout the course of the day. From 12:00pm – 1:00pm a Snowball Softball Super Skills competition was held in Happy Valley. At 3:00pm a Snowman Building and Old Man Winter Dress Up contest were held in the village center. TELUS Park hosted a Canada Snowboard Riders event which consisted of competitive training for young riders by certified coaches. At 6:00pm in the Happy Valley Day Lodge a photo contest based on the snow theme was held, followed by a screening of Sherpa Cinema’s ski film “All I Can”.

It was a warm sunny day up at Big White, a bright contrast to the foggy grey valley. Even if you don’t Ski or Snowboard it’s worth the trip up for the beauty of the resort and the plethora of other things to see and do. If you have a love for snow this was the day to be up at Big White to celebrate it. Since World Snow Day is still young there is plenty of time for growth. Next year should be even bigger. Hope to see you all up there next time.

Below is a segment from Sherpa Cinema’s “All I Can” shot here in BC.

A New Year’s Resolution Success Story

It’s that time of year again, the time when we think about that one thing that we really want to accomplish in the next year and fervently promise ourselves that THIS YEAR we’ll really lose twenty pounds, go to the gym religiously, quit our horrible jobs, etc.

The New Year’s Resolution!

Generally the success rates are not good. How often do we have the same resolution (“No, seriously, this year I’m really going to lose twenty pounds!”) from year to year to year?

So I thought I would give an example of my own of a New Year’s Resolution that I actually fulfilled. New Years 2011 I decided to set myself the goal of completing the Across the Lake Swim. I had heard about the swim ever since moving to Kelowna, but was always away when it occurred. In 2011 I promised myself I would complete it, and although I probably could have survived it without too much training beforehand, I decided to prepare by joining the Okanagan Masters Swim Club. I told myself that as long as I attended practices once a week I would be ready for the swim in July. Well, the first practice had me tomato-faced and gasping for air, not because the practice was extremely difficult, but because I was so out of shape! What had I gotten myself into? But I plugged away, attending practices, and slowly getting in better shape to the point where I was no longer exhausted at the end of practice but exhilarated! By my third month with the club I was swimming three or four times a week instead of just once. I made new friends, fell in love with swimming, and couldn’t wait for my first try crossing the lake.

Ashley, Myself, and Paul are ready to go!

Ashley, Myself, and Paul are ready to go in our matching wetsuits!

When the swim finally rolled around I was nervous but ready. I wasn’t sure what it would be like, swimming with 400 other swimmers, both faster and slower than myself. I had received lots of advice from other swimmers about how to spot the finish line, where to place myself at the start line to avoid being run over, and how to deal with the current (yes, there is a current in our lake!). But when the start gun went off for my group, all planning went out the window and I just put my head down and swam!

Running to the finish while also trying to pull off my cap.

Running to the finish while also trying to pull off my cap.

In the end, I swam faster than I thought I would, but that wasn’t important. What mattered was that I had achieved my goal, a New Year’s Resolution completed! And with it came the added benefits of new friends and new swimming challenges.

My Across the Lake Relay team: The Fintastic Four. Phred, Ashley, Myself, and Paul at the finish line.

My Across the Lake Relay team: The Fintastic Four. Phred, Ashley, Myself, and Paul at the finish line. Photo by Angelique Duffield at

In roughly seven months I will be attempting to achieve pretty much the biggest swimming goal there is, crossing not a lake, but the English Channel. That would never have entered my mind if it weren’t for that New Year’s Resolution to cross our very own lake. So go ahead, make a resolution this year. You never know what might come of it.

Baby It’s Cold Outside: Winter English Channel Training

Winter has arrived. This means our training for the English Channel has had to move inside until the spring. Or at least our swimming has moved inside:

Paul acclimatizes to the cold. Photo by Angelique Duffield

Even though we’re no longer swimming in the lake, we still have to try to stay acclimatized to colder temperatures so that we will be less likely to get hypothermia in the Channel. As can be seen above, Paul has cheekily taken to reading his paper out in the snow. I walk my dog without a jacket and keep my house at a balmy 15 degrees, which means that my dog is now modeling the latest in doggy sweaters on a daily basis. (That’s right, my dog is now wearing more winter clothing than I am. I do see the ridiculousness in this.)

Meanwhile, in the pool, we’re all working on bettering our technique to help prevent injuries and get us moving faster in that cold Channel water. We also just had our first swim meet of the year to test our speed. The Okanagan Masters Swim Club hosted Fright Fest over the Halloween weekend. Part of the tradition of the meet is that the last relay event is done with everyone in costume. This often leads to hilarious results with people’s costumes falling off and creating havoc as they try to swim. Anyone who thinks that swim meets are scary or intensely serious should come watch. It would completely change your perspective.

Look, I know this post seems rather silly. And training for the Channel is serious business. Unprepared swimmers have died attempting the channel. Come January we all have to pass a physical. To prepare, we’re all doing a lot of swimming, and most of us are doing dryland training in the gym as well. But as seriously as we take our training we have to enjoy our moments of silliness and fun along the way. It’s the fun that makes all the hard work worth it.

(Speaking of fun, Paul’s blog about training for the Channel has been nominated for the Best Canadian Sports Blog. It survived the first round of voting to make it to the final round. Please consider clicking on this link and voting for Nothing Great is Easy under the Best Sports Blog category. You don’t have to register or anything. A vote for his blog is a vote for a local guy who’s willing to sit outside in a speedo in winter. That’s worth your click right?)

Checking in with the English Channel Lake Monsters

It’s been a busy fall for the English Channel team. In addition to our weekly lake training, in September, team member Paul Duffield challenged himself to swim in 10 local lakes in 1 day to raise money for the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign. Not only did he complete his challenge (which took over 15 hours: from before sunrise to after sunset!), but he also swam over 11kms in the process! (Photo by Angelique Duffield)

You can read about his experience on his blog. Speaking of his blog, it was nominated for the Best Canadian Sports Blog and you can vote for his blog to win until Nov. 1 by going here and clicking “Best Sports Blog” and then clicking “Nothing Great is Easy!”

On Thanksgiving weekend, Mike, Denise, Phred, and myself were in Kalamalka lake. Back in June, everyone except Mike completed a 2 hr swim in 12 degree water to qualify to swim the English Channel. Mike couldn’t take part in that swim due to a shoulder injury so he still needed to qualify. On the Saturday of Thanksgiving the lake was finally cold enough (it had to be 15 degrees or colder), so Mike went in for his qualification and Phred, Denise, and I swam along with him for support. Check out our synchronized swimming:

Last time we had a windy, rainy, cold day but this time it was a nice sunny day and Mike had no trouble completing his two hour swim so the whole team has now officially qualified to swim the channel next summer!

Lake training will continue for the team until the water dips below 10 degrees (brrrr), meanwhile we’re all putting time in at the pool with the Okanagan Masters Swim Club to build up our endurance and speed over the winter to get in top shape for the Channel. And, like Paul, the whole team is raising money for the YMCA’s Strong Kids Campaign. So far we’ve raised about 1/3 of our overall goal.

This summer has been a learning experience for the team. Six people, with six different personalities and ideas about how training, qualifying, and swimming the Georgia Strait should go has led to some disagreements along the way. We’re learning how to compromise and support each other while taking care of our own needs as well. It’s kind of like a perverted six-person marriage. But I trust these people with my life. In fact, in the Channel next summer we will literally be putting our lives in each other’s hands. What an adventure! (Below: Denise, Paul, Tracey, Mike, Leora, and Phred. Photo by Angelique Duffield)

Jeremy Jones’ Further – “The Journey is the Reward”

Award winning producers Teton Gravity Research are pleased to announce Further, the second installment in the Jeremy Jones snowboard movie trilogy, Deeper, Further, Higher, presented by O’Neill.

Further will explore some of the world’s most remote mountain terrain while continuing Jones’ mission to camp deep in the backcountry and on the summits of unridden lines to access nearly vertical spines and wide-open powder fields. Join Jeremy and his crew as they push their minds and bodies Further.

This film will be premiering at The Paramount Theatre in Kelowna on Wednesday, October 3rd with tons of great prizes like a Day of Heli-boarding from Eagle Pass Heliskiing, A Jones Hovercraft Splitboard, lift tickets to Whitewater Ski Resort and more! A portion of the proceeds donated to the Canadian Avalance Centre and the Alpine Club of Canada – Okanagan Section

Tickets available at

Where: The Paramount Theatre (261 Bernard Avenue, Kelowna)
When: Wednesday, October 3rd – 6:30 PM
How Much: $12 advance, $15 door
For: Everyone

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