Oceans Seven......Pat's Adventure of a Lifetime

Friday, November 8, 2013

Swim for Your Heart.....February 14, 2014

  You are invited to join the global swim event "Swim for your Heart" on February 14, 2014 to bring an awareness of heart disease and its prevention.  It's easy to participate!  Go for a swim on February 14 and send a donation to your local heart foundation or program. Or support someone who will be swimming by making a donation to a heart program of your choice.  Also, many swim clubs and community organizations promoted events on February 14 to encourage their local community to join swimmers and learn about the great health benefits of swimming.
   The 2013 event was a big success with swimmers and supporters from 32 countries.  In some areas, local hospitals joined the event by providing free screening of blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels for all swimmers who participated. Free information on prevention of heart disease was available at poolside.  In warmer locations, open water swims were organized. Swimmers donated on a local level.  For example: donations were obtained to purchase CPR mannequins to help teach Cardiac Pulmonary Resuscitation, donations went to Children's Cardiac Centers, hospital cardiac rehabilitation centers, emergency response teams and to Heart Foundations and Associations worldwide.   You decide where you would like to send your donation.  I will be donating on a local level in memory of my brother Robbie who died unexpectedly at the age of 34 of a heart attack.  Robbie was unaware that he had heart disease.  I hope you will join me in this global effort to bring an awareness of heart disease and its prevention. Thank you.  Contact information:   patgallant.charette@gmail.com

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Pat's picks for 2013......

I start each day by reading the global news of open water swimming.  I love reading about marathon swimmers worldwide. It's exciting! It's thrilling! And, it's inspiration at its very best.

I thought it would be fun to let my friends know who has inspired me during the 2013 swim season.  It was very difficult to decide who would be my number one pick for top male swim, top female swim, top supporter of open water swimming, and top host of marathon swimmers.  But, here goes....

The # 1 male swim of the year goes to Fergal Somerville of Dublin, Ireland. Fergal set a record for the earliest solo swim of the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland.  He completed his grueling swim on June 16 in a time of 12 hours and 21 minutes.  Water temperature was on average 49 F. degrees. He set the record for oldest swimmer at the age of 49.  Fergal's swim was determination at its very best.

The # 1 female swim of the year goes to Wendy Trehiou from the island of Jersey. She completed an epic two-way crossing of the English Channel in 39 hours. Wendy was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011. Shortly after her diagnosis, she underwent radiation and chemotherapy.  After completion of her treatment, she was medically cleared to resume her marathon swim training. I was awe- struck with Wendy's inspirational swim.

The # 1 relay swim goes to the Bering Strait swim relay team. Swimmers were from several countries. Their swim started from Siberia, Russia and finished in Alaska, USA.  They swam in near-freezing water and treacherous conditions for three days. It was absolutely exciting and thrilling to watch their day by day progress in the Bering Strait. The relay team exhibited great strength, superb team work, and perseverance.

The # 1 supporter of Open Water Swimming goes to Steven Munatones. Steven supports swimmers of all levels in swimming. His passion of our sport is legendary. Steven's drive and determination to boost open water swimming is to be commended. Steve has inspired swimmers to go beyond the shoreline and pursue an adventure of a lifetime. (He inspired me to attempt the Oceans Seven that he founded).

The # 1 host to swimmers goes to David and Evelyn Frantzeskou of Varne Ridge Channel Swim Park in England. Their caravan park offers a wonderful community of support for channel swimmers. Their unending words of encouragement and support for all swimmers is to be applauded.

And finally, I am asking all friends and visitors to my blog to go to the website: World Open Water Swimming Association worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com/vote-here and read all nominations for the 2013 global swim awards. I know you will be inspired by their contributions in the marathon swim world.  And, vote for your favorite nominee in four categories.  Thank you.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Go Vote! WOWSA 2013 Nominations

You will be inspired!  You will be in awe of their accomplishments! They are all incredible athletes.  You can take part in the online voting.  Please read all the remarkable nominations for 2013. The Daily News of Open Water Swimming: 2013 WOWSA Online Voting Begins: The nominees for the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year , World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year , World Open Water Swimming P...

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tips for planning a North Channel swim

If you are thinking of swimming the North Channel known as one of the most difficult channels in the world, planning months ahead of time is essential.   Currently, there are two very experienced boat pilots to escort swimmers from Ireland to Scotland.  My boat pilot was Quinton Nelson. His boat is moored in a quaint little harbor in Donaghadee, Ireland. I found Quinton to be a very honest and highly experienced pilot. His email address is quinton@nelsonsboats.co.uk   Due to increase in popularity of swimming the North Channel, book early. There may be a two year wait list.  If you have a problem with getting sick from diesel fumes from your escort boat (I get very sick from the smell of diesel), I would recommend hiring a local experienced kayaker. Quinton arranged for a kayaker to accompany me at a very reasonable price. The kayaker will keep you away from the diesel fumes from the escort boat.  If you need a place to stay in Donaghadee I would recommend staying at Pier 36, a bed and breakfast, located at the harbor. www.pier36.co.uk The price for my two week stay was very reasonable and the food was fantastic. It is a family-run business. They made our stay a very enjoyable one. Pier 36 overlooks the harbor. There is a swim zone within walking distance and Quinton's boat is located within a two minute walk of Pier 36.    
If you decide to stay in the town of Bangor (approximately a 30 minute drive north of Donaghadee)and near Belfast, you will enjoy this very busy seaside resort.  There are many restaurants and bed and breakfast to choose from.   Boat pilot Brian Meharg of Bangor Boat is another experience boat pilot. His email address is bangorboatman@aol.com .   Again, book early to secure a slot due to the high demand.
  A year before your booked swim, you will need to register with the Irish Long Distance Swim Association. They will book an observer for your swim. I found the ILDSA to be very friendly and helpful.
  And, now for my tips on swimming the North Channel.  Cold acclimation is crucial. Some swimmers will arrive a few weeks early and become acclimated to the cold water of the North Channel. Water temperature in July and August is usually in the mid 50's Fahrenheit ( 12 to 15 degrees Celsius)  I am fortunate to live in Maine (USA) and our water temperature is very similar.  Next, be prepared for jellyfish stings.  I was very concerned about the Lion's Mane jellyfish stings. I did my research and I found many frightening articles about these jellyfish being the size of a small car. However, when I arrived in Donaghadee, my boat pilot said that the sting would be minor discomfort.  And, I was relieved to find out that these jellyfish are usually the size of a dinner plate and their tentacles are between three to five feet in length. I was stung nearly every inch of my body and I found the sting to be minor. On a pain scale of 0 to 10, I rated their sting as a # 1 being minor discomfort. I did not have any toxic reactions. I would like to caution that everyone is different and some swimmers may find the sting to be excruciating and get a reaction to the sting.  The cold water of the North Channel soothed my stings.  I saw thousands of jellyfish.  The following day I felt like I had a bad sunburn from these stings. I purchased "Jellyfish sting relief" to soothe my stings after my swim. I purchased it from Amazon.com   It was very effective. By the second day, I had no effect from the stings.
Most swims are held during the daytime due to the proliferation of jellyfish at night.  Jellyfish on a sunny day will float a few feet under the surface of the water. On an overcast day, jellyfish will be within a few inches of the surface of the water.  And, during the night these jellyfish will be at the surface of the water. The locals call it "jellyfish soup".
  The weather in the North Channel is very unpredictable. Three weather reports are viewed before a swim can take place....North Ireland, Scotland, and mid-channel reports are carefully monitored by the boat pilots.  Safety of swimmer and crew is always the priority.  Please be aware that these reports are only a guideline and weather can change abruptly without warning in the North Channel.
  Currents off the coast of Scotland can be very strong especially with the outgoing tide.  In my case, after swimming for 16 hours and 43 minutes and within a mile of the finish line the current changed and I was starting to be pulled away from Scotland. My swim was stopped. Mother Nature wins every time. However, I plan to attempt the North Channel again in 2015.
  I would recommend for swimmers to attempt other marathon swims like the English Channel or Catalina before attempting to swim the North Channel.  And, once a swimmer has completed a few marathon swim, I would highly recommend a swim attempt of the North Channel. It's an adventure of a lifetime.  Good luck!  If you have any questions, please email me at patgallant.charette@gmail.com  

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Overcoming fear in the open water.

I hate to admit it but several years ago I avoided swimming in the ocean due to fear.  My 34 year old brother Robbie was an outstanding swimmer and open water enthusiast.  I remember asking him about facing the uncertainty of what was in the ocean water beneath him.  "Aren't you afraid of sharks? Aren't you afraid of something lurking beneath you waiting to grab you?"  He looked at me and said, "Pat, how many car accidents do you hear about in the state of Maine (my home state)? And, how many times have you heard about someone getting tragically killed in a car accident?   But, you still get in a car and drive to work everyday, go shopping, and live your life."  Then he said, "How many times have you heard of a swimmer being attacked by a shark in Maine? Put your fear on the back burner and live your life."  It made me think!  Every month I read in the newspaper about some tragic accident...yet, I still got in my car.   I never heard of anyone getting attacked by a shark in Maine, yet I was hesitant to try open water swimming.  The following month my brother Robbie died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack (he was unaware that he had heart disease). A few weeks after his passing, my sixteen year old son Tom said he was going to swim the Peaks to Portland, a 2.4 ocean mile swim, as a tribute to his Uncle Robbie who won it twice. I was deeply touched by my son's thoughtfulness.  He encouraged me to try to swim it.  So, at the the age of 46 I was faced with this challenge of swimming 2.4 miles in the ocean and to overcome my fear of the creatures lurking below the surface.  During my very first swim of the Peaks to Portland,  I fell in love with the sport of open water swimming and overcame my fear. I am grateful to my son for encouraging me to attempt my very first open water swim.  It's been sixteen years since my brother Robbie died, his words inspired me many years ago to face my fear of creatures lurking in the depths. At the age of 62, I have enjoyed swimming in many iconic swim locations worldwide. And, now the most welcoming and enjoyable encounters I have had during my swim career has been with dolphins, seals, flying fish,  sea lions, and whales.  These sea creatures haven't changed but I have.   I hope Robbie's words will inspire you.

Friday, September 13, 2013

A solution to Diana Nyad's controversy?

After five grueling attempts to swim from Cuba to Florida, sixty-four year old Diana Nyad succeeded.  She was cheered worldwide for her great strength, perseverance and determination for her 110 mile marathon swim. I applaud her and salute her.   Within hours of her swim, global media coverage reported controversy regarding rules followed during her epic swim.  As a marathon swimmer, I wanted to evaluate for myself her claim to a world record for the first unassisted swim and claims by her critics.   I read several hundred online comments for and against Diana's historic swim.    My conclusion:  Diana Nyad successfully swam from Cuba to Florida. She did not advance by holding onto a boat or being in a boat.  She was assisted into a jellyfish suit by being touched by her crew.  There is no Cuba to Florida Swim Association to dictate rules therefore Diana did not cheat.  She cannot be judged by other governing bodies such at the English Channel Swim Association/Federation or the Catalina Swimming Association because the Strait of Florida is not in their jurisdiction. The words assisted or unassisted swim should not be used in a swim of this magnitude.  The purist of marathon swimmers do not include jellyfish protective gear, being touched by a crew member as an unassisted swim.  So to satisfy all parties, I believe that Susie Maroney of Australia world record should be listed as the first person to swim Cuba to Florida with an asterisk by her name stating **use of a shark cage.  Diana Nyad should receive the world record for the first person to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage and have an asterisk by her name **use of jellyfish protective gear, touched by crew.  And, for future marathon swimmers especially the "purist" group, the title should be world record for the first person to swim Cuba to Florida ***without a shark cage, jellyfish suit.   All parties will be satisfied with getting their rightful respect in their own swim accomplishment.  Now, let's move forward....Congratulations, to Susie Maroney and Diana Nyad for their world record accomplishment. And, I hope Penny Palfrey and Chloe McCardle from Australia  attempt the Florida Strait again. They have the talent and speed to reach Florida without a shark cage, jellyfish suit, or being touched by their crew. And, when one of them reaches the Florida coast she will have the world record for the first person to swim Cuba to Florida and have an asterisk by her name ***without a shark cage, jellyfish suit,or being touched by a crew member.  I'm looking forward to watching the next adventure swimmer attempt the grueling Florida Strait.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Congratulations, Diana Nyad!

Sixty-four year old Diana Nyad made history with her epic swim from Cuba to Florida. She proved to the world that with hard work and determination anything is possible. I admire her strength and true grit in accomplishing one of the most difficult swims in the world. I salute you, Diana. You make us all very proud.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Results on my North Channel swim

Yesterday, I started my swim from Donaghadee, Ireland at 5:07 a.m (time zone in Ireland). My escort boat pilot was the great Quinton Nelson and his crew.  Also on board was Sheena Paterson, Vice President of the Irish Long Distance Association, and my experienced crew, my brother David and his wife Jeannie. Also, I hired an expert kayaker Conleth McCambridge. The air temp was 60 degrees F. and water temp was 59 degrees F. I found the water temp and air temp to be better than I expected. Within 5 minutes I was stung by a Lion's Mane jellyfish. I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't find their sting very painful. On a scale of 1 to 10. With # 1 scale being mild pain and # 10 being excruciating pain. I gave my sting # 1. The largest jellyfish I saw had a dome the size of a dinner plate and their tentacles were about five feet in length. I saw thousands of jellyfish one foot to three feet below the surface. My crew reported only a few floating at the surface of the water. The jellyfish were actually beautiful. I saw thousands with a few very small one. I thought they were their offspring. They were awfully cute but their sting was equal to the larger ones. I was stung over every inch of my body. During my swim, I tried a lower carbohydrate diet and it worked very well. A few hours into my swim, I was startled by a large grey object below me.  Then it suddenly came toward me in great speed. It was a curious and friendly seal. We were face to face about two feet apart. I smiled at the seal and then it left. I then started with episodes of vomiting and dry heaves from the smell of diesel fumes. During these episodes, I swam the backstroke. The currents were very strong and I was pushed back a few miles off course . After swimming for 16 hours, I noticed that I was starting to develop hypothermia which was evident with my small finger cramping and my fingers were separating. I alerted my crew who are well trained in this potential crisis. After 16 hours and 43 minutes I was less than one mile from the finish line. I had no doubt that I was going to finish and claim a world record for the oldest person to successfully swim it. But then, tidal flow changed and I was being pushed backwards due to very strong currents. As a slow swimmer, it was a disadvantage. My boat pilot, channel official, and crew said that I needed to stop my swim due to outgoing current pulling me away from Scotland. At first I argued with them that I would continue swimming until the tide changed a few hours later. However, they saw that my hypothermia was worsening. But I quickly realized that they were observing me and I needed to respect their decision. It was a correct decision to stop my swim. I quickly went into the stage of moderate hypothermia. My crew was well trained in dealing with hypothermia. They quickly dried me off and placed two sets of LL Bean thermal underwear. Then applied several hot packs in my groin, armpit, and neck. Then they applied my L.L. Bean fleece jacket and gortex jacket. I was shivering beyond words. And, to think I never felt cold in the water. Again, hypothermia can set in quickly. I can't thank my crew enough for recognizing it. And naturally I felt disappointed not reaching the finish line, but that comes with the territory of marathon swimming. But I learned so much about myself...I have determination beyond words, at the age of 62 I have more endurance that I never imagined possible, and my love of open water swimming continues to grow. I would like to thank my crew for their incredible job, my boat pilot Quinton for his honesty and great piloting skills and his crew did a great job, too. Many thanks to to my kayaker Conleth McCambridge, my ILDSA official for her support, a special thank you to my family , friends, and co-workers for their support. It was greatly appreciated. Now onward to my next adventure of swimming Cook Strait in New Zealand. Thank you everyone.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

No finish today.


SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette's crew reports she had to be pulled unable to break thru current She is OK but very cold. She is alert and oriented. We have wrapped her up and have heating pads in strategic locations

Over 16 hours and still swimming...


SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette's crew reports Pat is stuck in a current with very little progress. 

The sun has set, but Pat swims on and on and on....

SWIM UPDATE:
The sun has set on Pat Gallant-Charette, but she swims on. 
The crew reports the temp is dropping fast. Keeping our fingers & toes crossed that tide & currents stay favorable.

Pat says she is feeling some effect of hypothermia. She has been in 59 degree water for 15 1/2 hours. The crew says they have a plan in place to treat hypothermia for when she finishes...they are still pulling for a finish. 

2.7 miles to go....


SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette is still giving it her all. The sun is going down. Calm seas just strong currents. 2.7 miles to go!!!!!

Picking up the pace...


SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette's crew reported that she has increased her stroke count from 56 to 68..... she knows time is running out that is why she has picked up the pace. Still looking great. The current is now pushing her to the North.
Keep your fingers crossed!

Closing in on the finish....

SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette's crew reports 5 miles to go!

7 miles to go.....

Pat is 7 miles away from finishing her North Channel crossing!!!!

1/2 way across the North Channel


SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette's crew reports she 1/2 way across the North Channel and looking good! 

WoooooHooooo!

Crew reports water/weather conditions still great


SWIM UPDATE:
Pat Gallant-Charette's crew reports that water conditions are great... calm and no wind. They will be heading into a strong current shortly that could take us them off course.

7 hours in and swimming strong

Pat started her swim 8.29.13 at 5:07a.m. (12:07a.m. EST) in Ireland to attempt the crossing of the North Channel to Scotland. She is 7 hours into her swim and still looking good & strong. Water temp is 59.5 degrees and conditions are looking promising. She is not quite to the 1/2 way mark of the swim.

Pat started her swim!

Pat started her swim approximately 5 1/2 hours ago. At one point seals were swimming around her & poking their heads up looking on curiously as she was swimming. The sea is calm and there is very little wind.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

It's a go, again!

It's a go! I will be starting my swim of the North channel in about 8 hours.   My crew member Jeannie will send text messages to my daughter to post on my blog.  I do not have a spot tracker.  Again, I hope improved weather conditions prevail.  Many thanks to everyone for sending messages of encouragement and support.....it's greatly appreciated.

Cancelled swim

My crew and I arrived at the boat dock early this morning and conditions were not favorable for a swim.  My swim was cancelled for today.  Hopefully the weather will improve for tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

North Channel swim .....It's a go!

It's a go for my swim attempt of the North Channel.  I will start my swim from Donaghadee, Ireland at 4:30 a.m. on Wednesday.  With time zone change of five hours, my swim start Tuesday night at 11:30 p.m (Maine).  Water temperature is about 56 degrees with overcast skies.  Air temperature is about 60 degrees.  My boat pilot Quinton Nelson took a swimmer out today and stopped after seven hours of swimming due to hypothermia.  This swim will be my most difficult swim of the Ocean's Seven.  Tides are a major problem off the coast of Scotland.  I will need Mother Nature to be on my side to reach Scotland.  I would like to thank my crew David and Jeannie Gallant for everything they have done. It's a team effort for a swimmer to succeed.  Also, I would to thank my husband and children for being so supportive.  And, a special thank you to all my wonderful co-workers.  And finally, I want to thank everyone from my hometown of Westbrook and the people from Maine for sending words of encouragement. I greatly appreciate it.  My daughter will place posting on my blog with updates.  After completion of my swim, I will post an update within 24 hours.   Thank you again for your support.

Monday, August 26, 2013

North Channel swim

Today I spoke with my boat pilot Quinton Nelson and he said that weather and currents are looking good for a swim on Tuesday at 11:30 p.m (EST Maine).  With time zone change in Ireland, my swim will start at 4:30 a.m on Wednesday.   The water temperature is in the fifties and I feel comfortable with that temperature.  My biggest concern is the problem with Lion's Mane jellyfish.  I have seen several during my swim training but I have not been stung.  I hope they stay their distance.  I will post an update tomorrow after I receive final confirmation on the weather report. Keeping my fingers crossed for perfect conditions.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Message in a Bottle....love, hope, and happiness.

In my final preparation for my swim of the North Channel in Ireland, I went for a two hour swim here in Maine with my good friend Yoko.  As we swam parallel to the shoreline, I suddenly noticed something bobbing in the water.  I was intrigued.  As I swam, my curiosity peaked. It was a bottle....not just any bottle. There was a message in this bottle. Suddenly I felt like a young child finding a hidden treasure.  I was so excited to see a paper scroll with a tiny purple ribbon carefully placed inside this bottle.  Yoko and I looked in amazement and wondered where did this special bottle travel from.  We joked that maybe someone threw it off the Old Orchard Beach Pier only a half-mile away.  Then, we though it may have traveled from a distant shore. The bottle was tightly sealed with cork and wax.   As we reached the beach, many beach goers were intrigued, too.  Many children were guessing what the message said.  I decided to contact my local newspaper so they could enjoy sharing this heart warming treasure with their readers.  Little did we know, the message we were about to read was not from a tourist, or a young school-age child, or someone from a far-away land.  As I removed the scroll from the bottle, I was surrounded by many tourist and beach goers.  Many parents and their children stood nearby as I began to read this message:   "To our Baby Bear,   We are finding it very difficult to put into words our hopes and dreams for you.  But even harder to imagine the person you will grow up to become.  All we can really wish for is that you are born into this world healthy, strong and that we are well enough equipped to guide you throughout your life, in every way you may need us as parents. You are sure to teach us as much about this world as we teach you.  We promise to be patient and kind when you hit the many rough patches you are sure to have to endure when reaching for your goals; supportive when we may not see eye to eye; because you will always be our baby boy.  There is always something special about a first in life, and you will always be our first child, our first real learning experience, our first priority, and our first reason to want to be the best parents we could ever be.  But in the end our biggest wish is that you find all the happiness in your own life, as much you have brought to ours.    Love always, your parents "
   I omitted the name of the parents.  Their message to their son is sincere and heartfelt. I don't know who they are or where they live but they have deeply touched me with their profoud message to their son.  I will always treasure finding their "message in a bottle" as one of the most cherished moments in my marathon swim career.
I hope one day to meet them and let them know how much they touched my life.   I hope they read this posting and  contact me.  Thank you.   email:  patgallant.charette@gmail.com

Friday, August 9, 2013

North Channel Swim....Here we come!

My crew and I will be heading to Ireland in two weeks to attempt my fifth swim of the Oceans Seven Challenge. I've already completed four of the solo swims:  English Channel (England to France), Strait of Gibraltar (Spain to Africa), Catalina Channel (California) and the Tsugaru Strait (Japan). For the North Channel swim, I will have a one week slot with my boat pilot Quinton Nelson. I will start my swim from Donaghadee, Ireland and swim 21 miles to Portpatrick, Scotland.  My slot is from August 27 to September 2, 2013.  The North Channel will be my most difficult swim so far.  The Irish Sea is known for their heavy seas, very cold water temperatures, and marine life.  My biggest concern is the growing problem of jellyfish in the North Channel.  Lion's mane jellyfish is the largest known species of jellyfish.  Their body can be up to eight feet in diameter with tentacles over 120 feet long.  These jelly fish are known to travel in large numbers. Their stings are extremely painful but usually not fatal.  My crew (brother David and his wife Jeannie) are both in the medical field and they are well trained to deal with any crisis that may arise.  During this swim there will be a unique set of challenges----- possible hypothermia and severe jellyfish stings.  We have carefully planned a detailed response to each potential problem.  At the age of 62, I feel strong and healthy. I continue to work 32 hours a week as a nurse and help care for my young grandchildren 40+ hours per week (ages 5, 2, and 1).  I am very fortunate to have a great husband who supports my dream of completing the Ocean's Seven Challenge.  Also, my children, Sarah and Tom, continue with their ongoing love and support.  I want to thank my swim training partner, Yoko Aoshima, for her dedication to the sport of open water swimming.  She has inspired me with her determination and great love of open water swimming. Yoko did not know how to swim five years ago.  Now, she's a fast and talented open water swimmer. She's an amazing athlete!
 If mother nature is on my side, I feel very confident that I have the ability to reach Scotland in approximately 18 hours. It is possible that I may set a record for the oldest swimmer.  Crew member Jeannie will send text messages from the boat to my daughter Sarah who will place updated postings on my blog "Pat's Channel Swim". This swim will be an adventure of a lifetime...I'm greatly looking forward to it.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

2013 Peaks to Portland Swim

The 32nd Annual Peaks to Portland Swim, a 2.4 mile ocean swim, was held on Saturday, July 13 under sunny skies. The Cumberland County YMCA organized this event. Again this year, they did a fantastic job by providing a safe, fun swim.  From Peaks Island the first wave of swimmers and their escort kayaker started at 9 a.m. and then every few minutes a wave of swimmers and their escort kayaker followed with a total of five waves. A few swimmers opted for no escort kayaker. There were safety boats along the course, too. The swim started on a slack tide.  The incoming tide did not start until late in the swim.  Water temperature was a balmy 65 degrees. Swimmers enjoyed the scenic route pass Fort Gorges at the entrance of Casco Bay.  Of the 400 registered entrants, only 23 swimmers opted for the non-wetsuit category.  The remainder of swimmers wore wetsuits.   The winner of the Men's non-wetsuit division was Michael Leake of Bennington, Vt in a time of 59:09.5.  Again, this year he led the pack in the non-wetsuit division.  He is an amazing young man and talented swimmer   The winner of the Women's Non-wetsuit division was Carla Dropo of Beverly, MA in a time of 1:04.33.5. She proved to be a very strong and fast endurance swimmer.  Japanese marathon swimmer Miyuke Fujita (non-wetsuit) was honored for traveling the longest distance to compete in Peaks to Portland.  The record breaking crowd of spectators enjoyed a great view from East End Beach.  All swimmers received words of congratulations and a medal as they crossed the finish line.    The winner of the Men's wetsuit division was Scott Yeomans of Bethlehem,PA.  The winner of Women's wetsuit division was Kirsten Read of Arundel, Me.    Congratulation to all swimmers.  And many thanks to all the volunteers who did an incredible job. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Miyuki Fujita to swim the Peaks to Portand in Maine

After traveling nearly twenty hours from Japan to Maine, Miyuki Fujita (far right) arrived with a smiling face and ready to swim the Peaks to Portland Challenge, a 2.4 mile ocean swim scheduled for Saturday, July 13.  My training partner and great friend, Yoko Aoshima (far left), will be participating in this event for her third year. This will be my 14th year to swim the P2P.  The Cumberland County YMCA is promoting this event as a fundraiser for their swim programs.  It is a very worthy cause.  My friend Yoko did not know how to swim five years ago. She took swim lessons at the YMCA.  And now, she is a very strong swimmer and she will be swimming in the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim Relay in New York City next month. I am so proud of her accomplishments.  You are invited to come to East End Beach and watch this spectacular swim.  There are nearly 400 swimmers participating. There will be a wetsuit division and non-wetsuit division.  Miyuki and I will be in the non-wetsuit division.  Also, please visit the Cumberland County YMCA website and sponsor an athlete of your choosing.  All donations go directly to the Y swim programs. Thank you.

Monday, July 8, 2013

First woman to complete Oceans' Seven.....Anna-Carin Nordin

Today Anna-Carin Nordin of Sweden swam the treacherous North Channel between Ireland and Scotland in a time of 14 hours and 21 minutes. She made history by becoming the first woman to complete the Oceans Seven Challenge.  I met and trained with Anna while in Japan last year. Her great love of marathon swimming was overwhelming to witness.  Anna is an incredible, great athlete and person... She deserves worldwide recognition for her awesome achievement. Congratulations, Anna!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Catalina Flying Fish

In my children's book "Catalina...Oh,my! An Adventure Story", illustrator and crew member Jean Murdoch-Gallant captures the enchanting scenes in beautifully detailed drawings.  We are currently seeking a publisher for our captivating true story of my Catalina swim. Contact information:   patgallant.charette@gmail.com

 

Monday, June 17, 2013

In Memory of Sherri Kelley


Today my young neighbor, Sherri Kelley, died after a three year heroic battle with cancer.  She inspired everyone with her great strength and outlook on life.  She is survived by her four sons, a loving family, her soul mate Terry and an unending list of very caring and supportive friends.  She will be greatly missed by all.  Last September, I dedicated my Japan swim as a tribute to her....she touched my life with her unrelenting determination to fight her cancer. She was a beautiful, compassionate, doting mother and a great friend to all who knew her.  My thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Australian Victory at MIMS

Today Paul Newsome of Australia won the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim a distance of 28.5 miles.  Paul is the founder of Swim Smooth (one of the top swim sites in the world).  I had the honor of meeting him and swim legend Shelley Taylor-Smith in 2011 during my stay at Varne Ridge Caravan Park in England. Congratulations to him and all swimmers of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Children's Book....Looking for a Publisher.

  One of my favorite marathon swims in the world occurred off the Coast of California.  I have written a children's book on this heartwarming true story. It is called, "Catalina...Oh, my!" An Adventure Story.   My daughter Sarah is co-writer. My crew member Jean illustrated the 32 page picture book for children ages 4 to 8.   And, now the difficult part...publishing.  I need your help finding a publisher.  I looked into self publishing but I decided not to go that route.  So, I am in the process of looking for a reputable publishing company in the United States. Most companies will not accept unsolicited manuscripts. 
  Synopsis of story:        
  Meet Grandma Pat and travel along with her and her boat crew as she swims the Catalina Channel and encounters many of the birds and sea creatures that live in and around the channel.  Grandma Pat begins her swim from Catalina Island with greetings from sea lions, pelicans, flying fish, dolphins, and even a spouting whale.  Her crew member and illustrator captures these enchanting scenes in beautifully detailed drawings.  As Grandma Pat swims 21 miles from Catalina Island to the mainland of California, she swims over a giant kelp forest, hears the gentle singing of whales, and she is startled by a large gray shadow beneath her.  The concept of team work, the spirit of adventure, and environmental protection is artfully woven in this true adventure story.  When Grandma Pat is near the end of her swim, she is surprised by the spectacular heartwarming welcoming of nearly 100 dolphins who swam with her to the shoreline.  Enjoy the magical beginning and ending of Grandma Pat's marathon swim and all the adventures in between.
  Contact information:  patgallant.charette@gmail.com

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Moving forward....

It's been one week since I've returned from New Zealand. Mother Nature prevailed with storms preventing any swims from taking place during my 12 day trip.   However, I am very pleased that I have the opportunity to attempt to swim Cook Strait in 2014.  In the meantime, I am in full force with my training for the 21 mile swim of the North Channel in Ireland at the end of August.  Today, I swam at Pine Point (Maine) with an ocean temperature of 48F(8.8C) degrees and air temperature of 59F (15C).  I felt comfortable and did not show any signs and symptoms of hypothermia. I will transition from pool to ocean slowly.  For example, on the days that I have off from work, I will swim for 3 hours at the pool, then travel to the ocean for a half hour swim.  I will gradually decrease my pool time and increase the time of my ocean swims each month.  Every three weeks I will have a six hour swim in one day in addition to my normal swim workouts on the other days.  By July, I will have long weekend ocean swims... Saturday 6 hours and Sunday 5 hours.  Early August, I will have a 6 hour swim in one day (remainder of week my usual training schedule).  Mid-August I will have a few ocean swims between 3-5 hours each day. Also, I will be taking "ice" baths a few times a week to prepare me for the bone chilling water of the North Channel. It's a brutal training method but a necessary step in preparing for cold water exposure of the Irish Sea.  The North Channel will be the most challenging swim of the Oceans Seven due to very cold water temperature (52 to 54F) and possible severe stings from Lion's mane jellyfish.  These jellyfish can have a dome (body) with a diameter of 7 feet and tentacles 120 feet long.  Their stings are very painful but are not known to be fatal (thank heavens).  My two experienced crew members, my brother David and sister-in-law Jeannie, are both in the medical field and they are well prepared to face the challenges of my next swim adventure.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Cancelled swim

I spoke with Philip Rush this evening and storms continue near the South Island.  My swim has been cancelled for Monday.  My crew and I will be leaving New Zealand on Wednesday.  Phil offered me a slot for 2014......I will be coming back to attempt Cook Strait.  I would like to thank my crew for being so supportive.  Also, many thanks to my family at home.  Also a special thank you for all the wonderful emails and Facebook messages received from friends and co-workers.... it was very much appreciated.  A special thank you to L.L Bean's for outfitting my crew and  I with Gor-tex jackets.....we wore these jackets everyday.   It kept us warm and dry during some very rainy days.  My future plans in marathon swimming:  North Channel late August 2013, Cook Strait in 2014,  Molaki Channel at a later date.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Still waiting

Cook Strait update:  No swim for Sunday (April 21) due to weather conditions.  I'm still hoping for improved weather.  Monday is the last day of my slot.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Windy Conditions

Windy conditions in Cook Strait continues....Saturday (April 20) swim has been cancelled.   My crew and I have been keeping ourselves very busy.  We went on a land tour of the North Island.  Also, I've been training in Wellington Harbor every morning.   We're hoping that weather conditions will start to improve on Sunday.  

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Swim Update

For the past week,  my crew and I have been waiting for weather to improve in New Zealand.  My swim of  Cook Strait has been cancelled for Friday (April 19) due to wind and strong currents.   The last day of my slot is Monday.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for improved conditions. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tragedy in Boston

My crew and I heard the devastating news of the tragic bombing at the Boston Marathon shortly after it occurred. We are heart broken and mourning the news like so many people world wide.  Our thoughts and prayers go to all runners, families, friends,  volunteers, first responders, and police.  I have been deeply touched by the people of New Zealand.  Some store signs have posted "We love Boston" and words of condolences have been expressed. The first half of  my upcoming swim of  Cook Strait will be dedicated to friends, family, and co-workers who have had breast cancer.  They have inspired me with their strength and determination.  The last half of my crossing will be dedicated to the Boston Marathon victims.  My final mile will be in memory of eight year old Martin Richard and for his critically injured mother and sister, and his devastated father.   Last year,  young Martin wrote on a sign at school "No more hurting people".   My crew will have a sign with Martin's quote on the final mile of my swim as a tribute to him.  God bless him, his family, and all the victims of this terrorist attack.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Day 2.....waiting

I spoke with Philip Rush this evening and tomorrow's forecast is not good for a crossing of Cook Strait.  Tuesday is Day 2 of my seven day slot.  I'm staying positive that the weather will start to improve in a couple of days.  In the meantime, I've been going for short swims in Wellington Harbor and having a great time with my crew. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Waiting in New Zealand

Last night my crew and I met with Philip Rush the organizer of the Cook Strait Swim.  It was a great honor for us to meet one of the greatest marathon swimmers in history.  He swam a  crossing of the English Channel in record time. He swam faster in a two way crossing of the English Channel than my solo crossing.  He's remarkable.   Phil will call me each evening after receiving the updated weather report.   If the conditions are right for an attempt of Cook Strait,  he gives us an eight hour notice to be ready.  Our bags are already packed.  Once we get confirmation, my daughter Sarah will update my blog with messages from crew.  I will not have a GPS tracker.    Water temp remains very cold.  The weather report for the next two days predict wind and rain.  I doubt if I will be swimming on Monday and Tuesday....but you never know.  The weather report could change.  I am so fortunate to have my brother David, sister-in-law Jeannie and nephew Chris has my crew.  They have done a fantastic job with our preparation.  We are ready!  I will post as soon I receive word from Phil.  And, a special thank you for sending words of encouragement and support. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

New Zealand....Here we come!

Today, my crew and I are leaving for New Zealand for an adventure of a lifetime.  I would like to thank my stay-at-home crew for their ever loving support....My husband and children are a major part of my success.  Their words of encouragement are heartfelt.  Also, sending special thanks to my family (mom, brothers, sisters, in-laws, nieces and nephews)friends and co-workers, too.  And, a very special thank you to L.L. Bean for their quality swim wear and clothing.  I will be wearing the same BeanSport swim suit for my Cook Strait swim...I've worn this suit for my Strait of Gibraltar, English Channel, Catalina and Tsugaru Strait swim....and it still looks brand new.
And finally, many years ago when my brother Robbie died at such a young age of 34, my youngest child Tom encouraged me to swim the Peaks to Portland as a tribute to Robbie. As many of you know, Robbie had won the Peaks to Portland twice.  Tom encouragingly said , "Ma, you can, if you try!".  I will be thinking of Robbie when I swim Cook Strait along with all the other people who have inspired me.  Robbie's son Chris will be at my side in a small boat.  Prior to my swim, Chris will write the name of his dad on my arm, along with my brother Johnny's name. I will be thinking of each one of you and we will cross Cook Strait together. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

Cook Strait swim dedicated to.......

Last week I was in a featured article in the April issue of Oprah Magazine.  The story is about six women who dare...the issue is about confidence.  It was a great honor to be selected for this national magazine.  However, this week my confidence was shaken by a diagnostic test for breast cancer that was abnormal.  It was a very frightening experience for me to go through.  Many years ago my father in his mid-forties had a mastectomy due to a cancerous lump.  At that time, I never heard of men having breast cancer but now it is common knowledge. So for many years, I wondered if I would inherit a genetic predisposition for this disease.  Today, I returned to the hospital to have another mammogram and much to my surprise and relief, the result was no cancer.  While walking out of the hospital, I realized how fortunate I was to leave there with good news.  I could not help but think of the number of women who I have met in my life that have been diagnosed with breast cancer. They have inspired me with their inner strength, determination, and confidence.  In honor of these inspirational women, my New Zealand swim of Cook Strait will be dedicated to them.  I will have my crew post a sign with their names for each mile of my swim.  I will be thinking of their courage and how they have inspired me.  

Sunday, February 24, 2013

New Zealand's Cook Strait

My next swim adventure will be in April.  I will attempt to swim Cook Strait between the North and South Islands of New Zealand a distance of 16 nautical miles. Swimming the strait is considered by many as one of the most difficult swims in the world due to unpredictable waters.  This crossing will be my fifth swim of the Oceans Seven Challenge.  I have not underestimated the degree of difficulty of this upcoming challenge.  I know what I will be facing...extreme currents, strong tidal flows, and aggressive marine life ( no swimmer has ever been attacked while attempting to swim across Cook Strait). I'm looking forward to this challenge.  My crew will consist of my brother David and his wife Jeannie, and nephew Chris....they did a fantastic job as my crew for my English Channel Swim in 2011.  One of the highlights of going to New Zealand will be meeting swimming legend Philip Rush (one of the greatest marathon swimmers of all time).  He completed a three-way crossing of the English Channel in a time of 28 hours and 21 minutes.   Philip is the coordinator of the Cook Strait Swim. There will be two boats and crew to safely monitor my swim.  Phil will be in the smaller boat guiding me.  The larger boat will have the navigational equipment, boat pilot and crew. It's going to be an exciting adventure.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Swim for your Heart, 2013

I would like to thank all the swimmers and supporters of the third annual global swim event "Valentine's Day..Swim for your Heart" to bring an awareness of heart disease and its prevention.  It was a success! Swimmers from over thirty countries participated in thought and action.   Together, we sent a strong message of unity in promoting this cause.  Thank you for supporting your local heart program or charity.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Melinda Beyer: An inspiration to all.

Please take a moment to read the inspirational story of 34 year old Melinda Beyer.  She was born with a congenital heart defect, had 3 open heart surgeries, recently gave birth to a healthy baby boy AND she is helping to promote "Valentine's Day...Swim for your Heart" to bring an awareness of heart disease and prevention. Thank you.
http://www.swimforyourheartfeb14.com/Testimonials.html

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

I never imagined......

Several years ago I never imagined that I would become a marathon swimmer.  And then, I never imagined that I would lose my youngest brother Robbie to a sudden and unexpected heart attack at the age of 34.  I started my swim career as a tribute to him.    On February 14, I will be participating in the "Valentine's Day..Swim for your Heart" event to bring an awareness of heart disease and prevention.  Maine Medical Center along with the Maine Heart Center will be visiting many area pools in the Greater Portland area to offer free blood pressures, free cholesterol test, and heart healthy information.  They need our support.  Please join me in making a donation to Maine Medical Center in memory of my brother or in memory of your loved one.  These health screenings will increase awareness of cardiovascular risk factors.   You can make an online donation to Maine Medical Center at their safe and secure website.  Please visit http://swimforyourheartfeb14.com.  Click on the "Donate" link, the click on The Maine Heart Center logo.  If you would prefer to mail a check, please forward check to:  Maine Medical Center, Development Dept, Attn: Valentine's Day..Swim for your Heart,  22 Bramhall Street, Portland, Maine 04102.     Thank you for your generosity.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"Valentine's Day...Swim for your Heart" event

In less than three weeks the global swim event, "Valentine's Day...Swim for your Heart" will take place.  Swimmers from over 30 countries will be participating in thought and action to bring an awareness to heart disease and its prevention.  Here in my home state of Maine, the Maine Heart Center will be offering free blood pressures, free cholesterol screening, and providing heart healthy information to all swimmers at poolside in the Greater Portland area.  I will be sending a donation to the Maine Medical Center's Maine Heart Center. I hope you will join me in donating to this very worthy cause. I have provided the link to Maine Medical Center's donation page. It's a safe and secure website.  https://fundraising.mmc.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=720
Also, please visit the website http://swimforyourheartfeb14.com  to see the schedule of free screening in the Greater Portland area.  Thank you.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

TideSmart Global

I would like to thank Steve Woods, President / CEO of TideSmart Global and candidate for Maine State Governor and his associates Michelle Reeves, Mark Gould, and Todd Friberg for their expert advice and redesign of the website "Valentines Day...Swim for your Heart" to bring an awareness of heart disease and prevention.  They generously donated their time and energy to greatly improve the marketing strategy of this global swim event.  Their recommendations have made a significant impact on this heart disease campaign.  Please visit the website: http://swimforyourheartfeb14.com
  Many of your know that I lost my 34 year old brother from a sudden and unexpected heart attack.  Bringing an awareness of heart disease and prevention is very important to me.  I hope you will get involved as either a swimmer or supporter on February 14 and send a donation to YOUR favorite heart program.  Again, a special thank you to Steve Woods and his wonderful organization.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

I need your help.....

 I need your help in spreading the word on the global swim event occurring on February 14, 2013.  This Valentine's Day Swim (also known as Swim for your Heart") brings an awareness of heart disease and prevention.  It's easy to participate!  Go for a swim on February 14 and send a donation to YOUR favorite heart charity.  This years' event is in memory of Norway's Champion Swimmer Alexander Dale Oen who died at the age of 26 from a heart attack.  He was unaware that he had heart disease.  In my home state of Maine, Maine Medical Center's  Maine Heart Center will be going to poolside at several locations to offer free blood pressures, free cholesterol test and provide heart healthy information to all swimmers. Also, many area businesses are encouraging employees to participate in this event.   As of today, there are swimmers from 30 countries who will be participating in this global event.  It's not to late to plan an event in your hometown..invite your local medical community to pool side and ask them to provide heart healthy information to swimmers. Please visit the website and view event planning. http://swimforyourheartfeb14.com   Thank you.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

WOWSA, Woman of the Year, Annaleise Carr

It was announced on January 1, 2013 that fourteen year old Annaleise Carr of Canada was voted the 2012 World Open Water Swimmer, Woman of the Year, Award.  Her story is another very inspirational one.....she swam across Lake Ontario to raise money for children with cancer.  She raised over $230,000 in one day.  I'm in awe of her accomplishment.  I hope her story is presented to the Disney Corporation for a movie... My young grandchildren enjoy having a bedtime story read to them each night. I told them the story of young Annaleise and they were mesmerized about her adventurous swim and thoughtfulness to help sick children.  Congratulations, Annaleise!

WOWSA Man of the Year, Stephen Redmond

It was announced on January 1, 2013 that Ireland's Stephen Redmond was voted the World Open Water Swimmer, Man of the Year, Award.  Congratulations, Stephen!   He competed against many well known marathon swimmers in the world....each of them deserving of this award, too.   But, Stephen's courage and tenacity to achieve his goal of completing the Ocean Seven Challenge was truly inspirational.  Great job, Stephen!