2017 English Channel swim

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Loch Ness swim

     Early Saturday morning, August 18 I will attempt to swim the 23 mile length of Loch Ness in Scotland (weather permitting).   This swim is part of the Still Water Eight Challenge, a group of 8 marathon swims in lakes worldwide.   Loch Ness is known for its alleged sightings of the Loch Ness Monster.   My three young grandchildren are very excited that I might see Nessie.  My crew will have a camera in hand just in case they see the infamous Nessie.  Ha! Ha!
    My biggest concern for this swim is the very low water temperature.  For the past month, it has rained nearly everyday causing lower then normal temperatures.  I expect the water temperature to be 50 degrees and if I'm lucky it will reach 54.  Forecast predicted for our nine day stay is rain everyday with windy conditions.  Not a good weather report for a marathon swim.   The odds are stacked heavily against me for a successful swim due to decreased water temps.   Regardless of the poor conditions for a swim, I will attempt it.     My brother David and sister-in-law's Jeannie and Jean will be my crew.  They are highly trained crew members and I am very fortunate to have them with me.  They know how to treat hypothermia which I will undoubtedly experience.  My swim will start around 5:30am in Fort Augustus and finish at the opposite end of the Loch.    My crew will activate my Spot Tracker 10 minutes prior to the start of my swim.  Due to time zone change,  my swim will start at 12:30am Eastern Time Zone on Saturday morning,   Scotland is 5 hours ahead so my swim would start at 5:30am their time.    Regardless of the outcome, I will update my blog within 24 hours of the completion of my swim.  Two days after my Loch Ness swim,  my crew and I will drive to England for my next marathon swim.  I will attempt to swim the 12 mile length of Lake Windermere.   It is included in the Still Water Eight Challenge.   I will post the link to my my Windermere swim a day before my swim that will occur on August 22 or 23 (weather permitting).  A special thank you to my family and friends for their ongoing love and support.    You're the best!      

Contact information: patgallant.charette@gmail.com

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Lake Tahoe swim results

Swimming the length of Lake Tahoe was an adventure of a lifetime.   It was an incredible experience to swim in such pristine water and see the panoramic view of the surrounding mountains.   Because of the horrible forest fires in Northern California,  South Lake Tahoe had frequent health warnings due to haze and smoke.   I was fortunate on August 7 that the winds shifted from the East and I did not have any issues breathing in smoke.  My crew, Chris and Jean Gallant did an incredible job.  They were a huge support.  My boat pilot Tom Linthicum is highly knowledgeable on swimming Lake Tahoe.  He has completed it three times.  I would highly recommend Tom as a pilot.  He truly wants to see every swimmer succeed no matter how long it takes.   His co-pilot David Pennington was extremely helpful along with Observer Robyn Rose.  
My swim of Lake Tahoe was very challenging due to the high altitude of 6,225 feet above sea level.  My hometown in Maine is 75 feet above sea level.   Before my swim, my nephew Chris wrote his father's name on my arm and my sister-in-law Jean wrote my brother Johnny and my mom on my arm.  My swim was in memory of them.    As I started my swim from Camp Richardson, I felt like I was breathing in a paper bag for the first ten minutes.   It was awful!  I decided to swim slower and it made a tremendous difference.   Water temperature and air temperature were very comfortable at 9pm.   After sunset, air temperature dropped significantly to mid-forties.   I started to feel cold within three of hours of my swim.   After swimming for nearly seven hours, I could feel mild hypothermia starting.  I felt like quitting but decided to swim until sunrise.  I knew from experience that I would feel better at sunrise.   Sunrise was a spectacular sight.   Chris and Jean alternated kayaking in 4 hour shifts initially then to two hour shifts.   They were extremely busy the whole time monitoring my stroke, giving me feeds, and encouraging me every stroke of the way.  When I reached the half-way mark at the tenth hour,  I knew my swim would take at least 20 hours.  What I didn't expect was the strong currents during the last three miles of my swim.  I felt like I was swimming in place.  I wanted to quit several times because I didn't feel like I was getting anywhere.  Chris was kayaking and repeatedly told me that I was making progress but I felt like I was swimming in an eddy.   Currents were swirling and I felt like I was not going to make it to the finish line.  I decided to listen to my crew and boat crew because I knew my though process was getting a little fuzzy due to mild hypothermia.   I reached the finish line and set a new record for the oldest person to swim the length of Lake Tahoe at the age of 67 and 186 days.  And, set another record for having the slowest time of 20 hours and 32 seconds.
   It was a wonderful surprise to be greeted at the finish line by several people.   Many thanks to Jason Grant and Jarmila Carrie for traveling a great distance to see me finish.  
I would like to thank my crew for an outstanding job.  Thank you to Tom Linthicum, David Pennington, and Robin Rose...fantastic boat crew.     Thank you to my family and friends for their support.  A special thank you to my daughter Sarah for her frequent updates on Facebook.   A special thank you to my training partner Yoko Aoshima.    And, thank you to Swimsuit for All for their sponsorship.  Now, onto to my next swim of Loch Ness scheduled for next week.
Contact information:    patgallant.charette@gmail.com

Monday, August 6, 2018

It’s a go!

I will be starting my Lake Tahoe swim tonight at 9pm Pacific Time Zone, (12 midnight Eastern Time Zone).  I met with my boat pilot Tom Linthicum, his co-pilot Dave, and observer Robin Rose.   Conditions look great for the 22.6 mile length of Lake Tahoe.  Chris and Jean (crew) are well prepared for this high altitude adventure.  Many thanks to my family and friends for their ongoing encouragement and support.   Also, a special thank you to Swimsuits for All for their sponsorship.
Please see tracker link in last post for live updates.  Tracker will be activated 10 minutes prior to my swim.   Thank you everyone.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

2018 Lake Tahoe swim

I will attempt a solo swim of the 22.6 mile length of Lake Tahoe on Monday, August 6 or Tuesday, August 7 (weather permitting).  My boat pilot will be Tom Linthicum and I will have an Observer to authenticate my swim.   My crew consist of my nephew Christopher Gallant (Robbie's son) and my sister-in-law Jean Murdoch-Gallant.  They are highly trained and experienced crew members.      Part of their training for my upcoming swim is knowing the negative effect of high-altitude caused by low amounts of oxygen.   They know the signs, symptoms, and treatment for high altitude sickness.   Hopefully, I will not experience any significant adverse effect from swimming at such a high altitude, but its best to be prepared.    My hometown in Maine is 75 feet above sea level.   Lake Tahoe in California is 6,225 feet above sea level.  Usually athletes will arrive several days before a competition to become acclimated to the altitude.   Because of my busy schedule,  I will arrive on Sunday and swim on Monday evening (weather permitting).   I have crossed trained with a high altitude mask to mimic the lower oxygen levels.  This mask has had mixed reviews on its effectiveness.  Also, for the past six months I have taken an iron supplement to help with the production of additional red blood cells for the transport of oxygen.   Prior to all my swims, I am very well hydrated with water.
    Feed plan:  Swim for two hours then quickly consume a carbohydrate drink.   Thereafter, every hour feeds alternating with A: carbohydrate drink.    B: plain water with a 250 calorie food item.
       My swim will take me about 17 hours to complete.   I will start at Camp Richardson in South Lake Tahoe and swim 22.68 miles north to Hyatt Beach.
   I would like to thank Swimsuits for All for their sponsorship for my Tahoe swim.  I will be wearing one of their beautiful swimsuits.   I love this company because of their promotion of diversity among all women.    Swimsuits for All recognizes the beauty of women of all ages, shapes, and sizes.
     My swim will be in memory of my brothers Robbie and Johnny, and my mother who recently died at the age of 93.    Chris will write his dad's and my brother's names on my arm.   Jean will write my mother's name.
   I would like to thank my husband,  children, and grandchildren and friends for their ongoing encouragement and support.   And, a special thank you to my training partner Yoko Aoshima for her ongoing advice.
   I will have a GPS Spot tracker that will be on the boat during my swim.  I will be swimming between my kayaker (Chris/Jean) and the main boat.   This tracker will be activated 10 minutes prior to the start of my swim.   I will post an update on the exact time and date of my upcoming swim on Monday, August 6.   Please click on the tracking link below:


Sunday, July 1, 2018

Results of my 20 Bridges Marathon Swim

I will be the first one to admit that I knew the odds were stacked against me for a successful swim around the 28 mile Manhattan Island in New York.  The event is called 20 Bridges Marathon Swim...  I was doubtful of a successful swim because I was notified by one the organizer Rondie Davies a week prior to the swim that currents for that day were weak and and no benefit for a slow swimmer (me).   I did my research on tidal flow and she was absolutely correct.    She offered to transfer my slot to next year.   She wants to see a swimmer succeed.  I declined her generous offer.   I decided to take a different approach to this swim.  I asked my good friend and swim buddy Yoko Aoshima to analyze my stroke a week before my swim.  Her advice helped me to improve my speed.  Yoko was instrumental in my success.  Then I studied the strategy of this enormous challenge and asked Louise Darlington for her insight.  Louise gave me some well needed advice of the challenge of swimming around Manhattan.   A few minutes before the start of my swim,  I met with John my kayaker and boat pilot Steve and quickly explained my feed strategy to them.   My observer Mary was on board to monitor my swim....the rules are similar to other marathon swims.... a swimmer cannot be touched, no wetsuits allowed.   My sister-in-law Jean Murdoch-Gallant was my crew.   She did an absolutely amazing job.  She had a very busy job of monitoring every moment of my swim.   Also, she wrote the names of my brothers' Robbie and Johnny on my arm in memory of them.
         The strategy:  once the swim starts a Pier A,  the swimmer needs to swim to the East River and swim to Hell's Gate near the entry area of the Harlem River.  If a swimmer cannot reach that area in a certain amount of time, they are stopped and pulled from the water and classified as a DNF (did not finish).   Once the swimmer is in the Harlem River the currents are very unpredictable and may slow a swimmer.  Again, if a swimmer cannot reach the end of the Harlem River in a designated time, they will be stopped and pulled from race due to tidal flow.   Once the swimmer arrives in the Hudson River, they need to reach the finish line about 10 miles away before the flood tide arrives.  If the swimmer does not make any progress in the Hudson River, they will be stopped and pulled.      My plan was to sprint the East River to Hell's Gate with my new swim technique (thanks to Yoko).  Also, for the past few years I have tweaked my feeds.  My pattern was a liquid carbohydrate on my first stop after two hours of swimming, my next stop was two hours later and consume a bottle of plain water and peanut butter cookie (about 250 calories).  Plain water is crucial during a marathon swim in hot weather.    Because of the air temperature being in the nineties, I consumed plain water every other hour after the 4th hour as the temperature rose.   At the start of my swim, I went all out until I reached Hell's Gate.   Swimming in the Harlem River was quite the experience.....lots of debris, including a dead rat floating by.  My immunizations were up to date and I was started on an antibiotic as prophylactic treatment.   I knew I could not revert back to my nice long slow relaxing pace from other marathon swims.   So I continued to push hard until I reached the Hudson River.   I was expecting the Hudson to be the easiest part....Wrong!!  It was incredibly choppy and with a headwind.   I was told that I would make it to the finish before the cut-off time.  For about 15 minutes I went at a slower pace because I thought the Hudson River would do most of the work...wrong again!!!   After my many training sessions at Sebago Lake here in Maine, I knew that chop and a headwind would significantly slow a swimmer.   I decided to start sprinting again.   As I neared the finish line,  I saw a few officials on jet skis watching me.   I feared that I was going to be pulled because I was about a quarter mile from the finish line.   I could tell that the current was starting to flood and that was not good.  My kayaker John kept me close to the wall where the current was less.  I was able to cross the finish line in 10 hours and 53 minutes.   I set a World Record for the Oldest Person to swim the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming (English Channel, Catalina Channel, and Manhattan Island) and a Record for Oldest Woman to swim around Manhattan Island at the age of 67 years and 148 days.  Of the three marathon swims. I found Manhattan Island to be the toughest because I don't like to sprint especially for ten hours.
 I found that the organizers of 20 Bridges Marathon Swim did an incredible job....very well organized with safety as their priority.    I was grateful to Rondie Davies for making me aware of the weak currents scheduled for June 30.  If it wasn't for her email, I probably would have started with my slow relaxing pace and I would not have made it to Hell's gate and would have been pulled.    Another person instrumental in my success was Louise Darlington.  She explained in detail about the strategy needed for a slow swimmer to be successful in this swim.  Louise was instrumental in my success.
   I want to thank Swimsuits for All for their sponsorship.  They promote the diversity of women and recognize that women come in all sizes, shapes, and ages.   I am proud to be wearing their beautiful swimsuits.
   My family was instrumental in my success, too.   Their ongoing words of encouragement and support was heartfelt.  A special thank you to my daughter Sarah for updating Facebook during my swim.  And, a huge thank you to Yoko Aoshima for helping me to improve my stroke.   Also, I want to thank everyone for cheering me on.....I was overwhelmed with the hundreds of messages that I received.    Now, on to the next adventure Lake Tahoe in August.