Welcome to my 2016 swim website. For those of you who don't know me, I swam Lake Ontario the easy way in 1983 and the hard way in 1984. I “came out of retirement" to swim the English Channel (oldest Canadian woman) in 2011. In 2013, I was the oldest Canadian to swim the Catalina strait in California. After swimming around Manhattan Island (oldest Canadian) in 2014, I became the first Canadian to complete the Triple Crown of open water swimming (English Channel, Catalina Strait and Manhattan.) Last year I was the first to swim between three provinces: from Nova Scotia north to New Brunswick and across the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island (34 kms). This year on March 18, I became the first Canadian and the oldest woman ever to swim the icy and turbulent Cook Strait between the south and north islands in New Zealand. (See links below for more detail.)

On August 11, 2016, I hope to become the first Canadian to swim from Plymouth to Provincetown, Massachusetts, across Cape Cod Bay. This “P2P” swim has only been accomplished by 6 people (all American), although the swim has been attempted numerous times since 1915. The swim from Manomet Beach in Plymouth to Herring Cove Beach in Provincetown is about 32 kilometers. The biggest challenge is the current which circulates in a counter-clockwise direction around the relatively shallow bay. The water temperature is expected to be between 16 and 21 degrees Celsius. The swim is officiated by the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association (MOWSA), whose rules are based on the English Channel rules. https://massopenwaterswimming.com/

I am pleased to be able to use this opportunity to raise money for Sashbear, an organization founded by Lynn Courey, whose daughter, Sasha, a swimmer with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), died by suicide in 2011. Sashbear funds education programs for therapists, families and in schools. I have dedicated my psychiatric career to the treatment and research of BPD, which has a suicide rate of 10%. More treatment programs and support for families are desperately needed in Canada. Please support my swim by donating to Sashbear. Thank you. http://sashbear.org/en/

Across Cape Cod Bay:

Across Cape Cod Bay:
Across Cape Cod Bay: Plymouth to Provincetown

Monday 15 February 2016

What I think about on a long swim - Part 2

   The first hour of a swim is the worst. That is when I really struggle with the "am I crazy?", "what have I gotten myself into?" and "this is too huge, I'll never do this" thoughts. But then in the second hour those thoughts go away and I start to get in "the zone". A swim goes by the fastest if I can zone out for the whole 45 minutes between the feedings. However, part of my brain is always focusing on my stroke, which needs constant attention. A swim is really long and tedious if something like cold, pain, nausea, waves or jellyfish stop me from zoning out. It's at those times that a pacer swimmer really helps.
  The night time is my favourite part of the swim because there are no distracting stimuli to prevent me from zoning out. I sometimes "wake up and discover I am swimming".
  My crew don't want to discourage me by telling me how far I've come and how long its been. I trust that my crew will give me good news when they find it strategic to share it. I count feedings for a while, but I usually lose count before I get to 10. I get into this state where I really am not thinking much and not caring much about how much further. I'm in it for the duration, no matter how long it takes. I'm usually not allowed to wear a watch so I watch the sun rise, cross the sky and slowly sink back into the water.  If I really want to know how long I've been swimming, I can guess at the time by the sun position.
  The other thing I've learned is that my body goes through "walls" every 3 or 4 hours. Marathon runners don't know how lucky they are to only go through one wall! Everything hurts, the arms feel like lead, and breathing feels tight. The urge to stop is overwhelming. However, I have learned the hard way that it is 10 times harder to start again if you stop, so I compromise and slow down for a bit. Pretty soon, I have swum through the wall, and I feel fairly good again.
  The same is true for headache, nausea, and some joint pains. I have learned to ignore them and hope they go away, which they usually do in an hour or two.
  I like to do a lot of research about my swims. I recognize the geographic features and I know what parts of the swim are critical. I spend a lot of time while I am swimming thinking about my strategy for the upcoming challenges. This way I don't need to stop and ask questions when we get to those challenges.
  The final struggle is with wanting to stop and talk. I can spend the whole 45 minutes thinking about things I want to say at the next feeding!

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