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:
Friday, 18 March 2016
I started at 9:30 am touching a rock at Arapawa Island on the South Island. The water was cold at 61 degrees F (16 C). I sprinted for 2 hours to stay warm until the sun got higher in the sky. Unbeknownst to me, the current was sweeping me along the shore for the first 3 hours, and I only made 1 km progress toward the other side. Then all of a sudden the water got flat and warm (17.5 deg.). I knew there were big waves in the middle of the strait so I focused on stroking long and strong to get across as much of the strait as possible. That continued for about 3 hours and then it got choppy, but not as bad as predicted. After 2 hours of fighting the waves. the wind changed to push me from the left flank. I was able to swim long and strong again and surprised everyone with how far I got before it got choppy again. It was down to 15 degrees C in the water again (and probably stayed at that temperature until the end) so it felt good to work hard with the sun on my back. After about 8 hours of swimming (this time I succeeded at counting my feedings). Philip told me that I had 8 km left. The North Island was starting to loom above me right in front of me. I was starting to think that I could actually do this.
As the sun was setting (at 7:34 pm), it got choppy again. Whenever I tried to breathe from the left I got a mouthful of water so I gave up and breathed only on the right. Philip said I had only about 2.5 km left and told me to sprint. They kept screaming at me for an hour. I had to dig deep and deeper and deeper still. I knew the tide was going to push me out to sea if I couldn't punch through it. I could see the land rushing past. In all the chaos of hitting the strong tidal current, I didn't get a chance to change out of my dark goggles into my clear goggles and we skipped a feeding. After that was taken care of quickly, I was able to attack the current with renewed vigour and I finally made it to shore. At that point, we were in a very rocky zone with surf pounding the shore. Philip thought it too dangerous to land and we ended at the rocks. Total time 11 hour 34 minutes.
Evidently the lowest my core temp got was 35.99 deg C. But I sure felt a lot colder than that. I have never shivered so violently in my life. But I knew that shivering meant that I was not severely hypothermic and although, unpleasant, I would soon be OK.
Big thanks to Colleen, my husband, Captain Chris, navigator Byron and most especially Philip Rush who made it possible and made me believe that I could do it. After almost 30 years of doing this, he poured his heart into my swim.