Cook Strait Swim, New Zealand

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hurricane Irene in Maine

Our thoughts are with everyone living in the great State of Maine.  As Hurricane Irene approaches, we pray that all of you will be safe.  We hope the impact of Hurricane Irene is minimal.  We continue to monitor the path of Irene hourly.  Please stay safe and know that we are sending our prayers from England.
Pat and Crew

Meeting two swim legends.

A few days ago we met swim legend Montserrat Tresserras of Spain. Today, we were introduced to International Swim Hall of Fame inductee and world champion marathon swimmer Shelley Taylor-Smith of Australia. She is an icon in the swim world. I was awe struck!  In the photo starting on the left, Shelley, Jeannie Gallant (crew member), myself, and Montserrat. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Update from Dover

Many swimmers throughout the world have come to Dover,England to attempt to swim the English Channel. I had a wonderful opportunity to speak to several of them about their dreams of swimming the channel.  Also, I spoke to them about my hopes of promoting the yearly global swim event called "Swim for your Heart..Feb 14".  This event brings an awareness of heart disease and it's prevention.  Swimmers can organize a swim in their hometown and raise money for their local heart association, cardiac rehabilitation center, or cardiac facility.  Yesterday, a swimmer from Australia said he will organize 200 swimmers to participate and send proceeds to the Australian Heart Association.  A swimmer from South Africa said that she would take part and contact fellow swimmers.  I met a college swim captain from the USA and she said she will organize an event on Feb 14.   Also, I met a long distance swimmer from New York City, and he said he will promote this event in his area.  Several swimmers from Mexico were in Dover and they wore their "Swim for you Heart" logo, they will be participating in next years' event. They will be sending their proceeds to the Mexican Heart Association.   Many of you know that my brother Robbie died at the age of 34 of a heart attack.  It was a tremendous loss to our family.  He was such a wonderful person. In promoting "Swim for Your Heart..Feb 14", I hope other families will not experience the tragedy that we went through. Many in the global swim community will join in thought and action on February 14 and bring the aware of heart disease prevention.  I hope you will join me and the thousands of swimmers globally in promoting this event.  Thank you.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What a day!

This is my first opportunity to update everyone.  I would like to begin by thanking my family, friends, co-workers for their words of encouragement and support. A special thank you for my daughter Sarah for updating my blog from reports sent to her from my crew. Also, I want to thank my husband Jim for his unending support of my passion for open water swimming.  And a special thank you to my son Tom who encouraged me several years ago to try to swim the Peaks to Portland as a tribute to Robbie. I will never forget his words, "Ma, you could if you tried".  I never imagined that 14 years later that I would successfully swim the English Channel at the age of 60. Also, I want to thank everyone who sent me emails...I received over 2500 emails today congratulating me.  I am very overwhelmed by their thoughtfulness. It was very much appreciated    And now for my swim:   I found out moments before the swim started that my boat pilot had a problem with his tracking device....sorry about the inconvenience.  I want to thank my Channel crew for their great support during my swim.  My brother David took many photos and I will create a new slide show for my blog after I return home on Tuesday. My sister-in-law Jeannie text messaged Sarah with my progress.  My nephew Kyle took plenty of video clips and photos of my swim.  Then, my nephew Christopher (Robbie's son) stood on the boat deck for 15 hours and 57 minutes and watched me swim the English Channel. Since I had 4 crew members, I instructed them to rotate monitoring my swim every hour.  So they could have a break.  Chris never took a break.  He stood there and helped me in so many ways.  It was a very special moment for us.  He wrote his dad's name on my arm prior to the start of my swim. Moments before the start of my swim, all crew members joined hands and I said "This is for Robbie".  I started my swim from Shakespeare Beach near Dover. The tide was very weak and I came within half a mile of France.  I thought I was going to have an under 12 hour swim.  But then the current change and I was swept beyond Cape Grey Nez, France.  I knew at that point my swim would be an additional four to six hours.  The water was very turbulent.  It was very difficult..I was swimming in waves of four feet coming at me from every direction...it's best to describe it "like swimmming in a washing machine". When I reached the finish line, Christopher was going to be on the dinghy to greet me on the beach but it was to dangerous for him because of crashing waves. I finished at Cap Gris-Nez. It is beyond words to explain the feeling of completing my swim.  When I returned to the Viking Princess, Chris hugged me and I said "this was for your dad." It was a special moment for all my crew members.  I will be returning to Maine on Tuesday...and I'm so looking forward to seeing everyone..especially my grandchildren,  Thank you again for having an interest in my swim.  

Monday, August 22, 2011

Swim time under 16 hours....

I just got a phone call from the boat crew.
Everyone is sick and throwing up due to the rough water conditions of the return boat ride...."boat ride from hell" is what they are calling it.
No official time or miles to report; just that the swim time was under 16 hours.
When they hit land, they will call to give the final details of swim.
Will continue to keep you all posted.

SHE DID IT!

OMG, she did it!
she did it
she did it
she did it.
I  am just in awe! Holy Holy HOLY!
Way to go MOM!
I/WE all knew you could do it!
I can only imagine the emotions you are experiencing.

We are all jumping up and down, shouting WOOHOO!

Sea conditions....

The sea continues to be rough and Pat is stuck in an outgoing tide...but she swims on.
The crew has informed me that they all have their fingers crossed.

Will continue to keep you all updated.

As the sun sets on French soil.....

As the sun starts to set in France, Pat swims on.
According to her crew, she is not making much progress. I am not sure of the remaining distance or conditions; still waiting to hear from crew.
Let's all pray, jump and yell....whatever it takes to get her to France!

Go Mom Go! Kick Kick Kick!

Latest update....

Pat's boat crew just sent me another message stating that the water conditions are still very rough, but a finish looks possible. Thank goodness she had all that Pine Point Beach swim training in! Pat thrives on the rough stuff! "bring on the chop, if anybody can swim through it, she can!"

I will continue to keep you all posted.

Dingy ready?

I am not sure what this means, but I just heard from the crew that the boat pilot has gotten the dingy ready. Maybe some of you may know what this means? The pilots are not offering up information to Pats family crew of 4 on board the boat. So for now we will continue to wait......

Issues.....

I just heard from the boat crew. Pat is not making much progress due to issues with tides. Wind and waves are starting to pick up...PLEASE LET'S ALL TAKE A MOMENT AND PRAY FOR PAT. She can do this!

Go MOM! We are all with you in spirit and swimming along aside you! You can DO THIS!

4 miles to go....

I heard from the boat crew at aprox 11 hours into swim at 09:50a.m. Eastern time zome (2:50pm England time) that Pat has 4 miles to go and has started to fight the currents going in towards shore to finish her swim.

Over half way across....

I heard word at 06:30a.m. eastern time (11:30a.m. England time and just over 7 hours in the water) that Pat is 1/2 way across the English Channel. Weather is cloudy and rainy; water conditions are choppy (Pat thrives in choppy water).........she is still looking strong in the water, but currently nauseous from the boat exhaust.

6 miles into swim and still going strong....

Mom has been in the water for just over 4 hours and has completed 6 miles of her crossing of the English Channel; she continues to look strong. Conditions are OK (no further details from boat crew), just that she is doing fine.

In the water and looking stong....

Pat is about 1.5 hours into her swim and she is looking stong; conditions ok (per boat crew).
I still have not been able to locate her boat on the Dover AIS tracking website.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

This is Pat's daughter Sarah. I have heard word from her boat crew that Pat has started her swim just minutes ago at 11:11pm eastern time (04:11a.m. England time). I will keep you posted as I hear updates from the crew. I have not seen her tracker show up on the AIS website as of yet. The address is:  http://www.ais-doverstraits.co.uk/   the port of Dover, boat Viking Princess.
Please say a prayer for her and her crew :)




It's a Go !

I will be starting my English Channel attempt on Monday, August 22 at 3:30  A.M.   In Maine (Eastern time zone)  my swim will start tonight at 10:30 P.M. England is 5 hours ahead.   Since everyone back home will be going to bed. I told my daughter not to update my blog until morning.   My boat pilot said the conditions are not the best. There is currently some 9 foot swells.  He said that it might worsen.  If I don't make the attempt tonight, I would probably be going home without a swim.  The remainder of the week has very poor weather conditions with high winds.  So I have decided to take a chance and go for it. There is a tracking website called AIS, location is Dover, England.  The vessel is named the Viking Princess.  You will be able to track my swim live.  I am worried that my crew might develop motion sickness from the swells.  Please pray for calm seas for all of us. 

Waiting and waiting and waiting in Dover

The English Channel has had calm conditions for the past few days.  The tidal flow continues to be very strong for a slow swimmer.  My boat pilot still thinks that Tuesday into Wednesday would be the best time for me to start my swim.   However, I've been checking all the local weather stations and it seems that on those days it will be very windy. I'm letting my boat pilot make the decision when I'll swim.  But,it has been very difficult to see other swimmers cross the channel in very calm conditions. My crew is keeping me calm.  They have been so supportive.   I will get the update from my boat pilot this evening....I'm hoping that he will tell me that my swim will start on Monday. Thank you for all the great emails of support...It has been a tremendous help.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Dover update

I spoke with my boat pilot this evening.  And, the best possible crossing for me would be on Monday or Tuesday.  Several swimmers have been out today and they were successful with very fast times.  Since I'm a slow swimmer, I have to wait for a weaker tidal flow. Tuesday is the weakest tide.  However, wind may be another problem...a cold front is expected.  I'll update tomorrow.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Meeting a swim icon......

It was a surprise when we discovered that our neighbor at Varne Ridge Caravan Park is International Swimming Hall of Fame swimmer Montserrat Tresserras.  She was inducted into the International Swim Hall of Fame the same year Johnny Weismuller (Tarzan).  At the age of 80, she is remarkable and full of energy.  She gave me several tips on swimming the Channel. She is holding one of her books that she has written on her experiences  as open water swimmer.  We were honored to meet her.  She is a legend in the open water swim community.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Swim Postponed

I met with my boat pilot this evening.  Weather forecast has improved but the tidal flow is not suited for a "slow" swimmer of 16 hours +.  He recommended waiting until Monday.  The predicted tidal flow is much weaker. I have full confidence in his judgement....I will swim when he give me the go ahead.  In the meantime, we are having a great time. 

It's a Go !

I just heard from my boat pilot and we are meeting at 5 P.M. this evening.  He said to be prepared to start my swim.  I'm not sure of the start time.  But, it looks like a go for tonight.  Yipee!
I'll be thinking of all of you. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Special Request.....

Crew members David and Jeannie Gallant have asked if I could dedicate mile 9 as a tribute to their good friend Brenda Whitmore. They have been inspired by her courageous fight against Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS) a neuro-degenerative disorder. She lives each day with courage, grace, and never ending humor.  They will proudly display her name on a poster as we begin mile 9.  Please join us in thinking of Brenda.

Update on Dover

I spoke with my boat pilot Reg Brickell and we are going to meet on Wednesday evening to discuss my crossing.  Many swimmers are saying that Friday looks like favorable conditions.  So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it's a go for Friday.  It's been very windy in Dover.  This morning I swam in Dover Harbor along with crew members Kyle, David, and Chris.  It was fun, however my crew was in the water for a couple of minutes (thought it was too cold).  Water temperature was about 62 degrees.  We toured Dover Castle and traveled to Samphire Hoe (scenic overlook of the English Channel).  We are having a great time.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Arrived in Dover

We arrived in Dover late last night.   I drove on the opposite side of the road for my very first time....AND WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!! Going through a rotary( turn-about) is more nerve racking that my upcoming Channel swim :-)    It's sunny with moderate winds.  I will be meeting with my boat pilot later to discuss my upcoming swim.  My slot is August 18 to the 28th. Also, I want to thank all my family and friends for their unending support of my endeavor.   And for some reason, I cannot access my "road runner" email account.  But I can access my gmail.  Please forward emails to patgallant.charette@gmail.com.   Don't forward to road runner account.  Thank you.  I will place another post tomorrow.  FYI time zone in England is 5 hours ahead of Maine...so if it's noon in Maine, it's 5 P.M. in Dover.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Each mile dedicated to.....

During my next attempt of the English Channel, I plan to dedicate each mile of my swim to someone who has inspired me. My crew will proudly hold a poster with that persons' name printed on it.  For example, the first mile of my swim will be dedicated to my young neighbor who is being treated for cancer. Her determination to fight this disease is truly inspirational....  The next mile will be dedicated to a young friend of mine who is confined to a wheelchair.... his smile is contagious. He has never complained of his disability...I have learned so much from him. The next mile is dedicated to my husband and children for their unending love and support.  The next mile will be dedicated to my good friend Yoko. She didn't know how to swim a few years ago. And today, she has developed into a great open water swimmer...I have enjoyed training with her.   Since I'm a slow swimmer and I expect to swim approximately 30 miles with the tidal flow, I have a very long list of names of people who have inspired me...not enough space in this blog posting to list everyone.  The very last mile of my swim is dedicated to the Maine Medical Center Mended Hearts Support Group.  These individuals have given support to so many people who have had a cardiac event...they are inspirational.   And lastly, as I walk onto French soil at the conclusion of my swim,  I will proudly point to the sky and say "this is for you, Robbie".   His sixteen year old son Christopher will be at my side for this special tribute to his dad.