2017 English Channel swim

Friday, January 31, 2014


At the age of 63, I continue to work as a nurse 32 hours per week and help care for my three young grandchildren (ages 5, 3, and 2) for 40+ hours a week.  I train for my marathon swims in my spare time.  In the past several months, I have been asked if I plan to retire from marathon swimming. My response, "Absolutely not!" I believe that I have many more years of marathon swimming ahead of me. There are so many wonderful swims worldwide that I would love to attempt.  However, the expense of these swims is very costly and I need to continue to work to pay for these swims. I love the sport of marathon swimming.....Mother Nature has not dampened my spirit to continue with my open water swim adventures.  If anything, Mother Nature has energized my determination.  For me, the sport of marathon swimming is more than reaching the finish line.....it's the journey. My swim of Cook Strait in New Zealand, was an adventure of a lifetime. And, although Mother Nature was stronger than my swimming, I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge.  And, now onto the next swim adventure.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Cook Strait swim result

My crew and I departed from the North  Island of New Zealand along with Philip Rush and his crew to travel to the South Island. We were informed that weather forecast for later that morning would have increase winds.  With only 4 days left to our trip. We decided to go for it.  Wind conditions on the South Island, was perfect.  However , calm conditions can be deceiving.  My crew and I held hands to pay tribute Matt Rairdon.  His name was written on my upper arm.  My brothers Robbie and Johnny had their names on my forearm.  My crew and I wore our "Westbrook Strong" t-shirts on board .  As I started my swim, I had a 3 hour delay due to swirling currents keeping me in place. Four hours into the swim, conditions worsened. (I will post a video when I return to Maine next week.).  I started having issues with seasickness. However, I felt strong enough to continue. I actually enjoyed swimming in the very choppy conditions.  I noticed the finish line was not getting any closer after nearly 10 hours of swimming.  Swim legend Philip Rush, the organizer of my swim, said the current had changed (pulling me away from the finish)and it would be impossible to make the finish line.   I knew my choices: continue to swim for another 10 hours and be  further out in the Pacific Ocean or call it quits.   I asked Philip to stop the swim.   I felt strong enough to continue with my swim if Mother Nature was on my side. But, she was not.
I was disappointed that I did not finish the swim because this would have been a world record. However, I am not defeated. I will continue with my swim adventures.  I discovered for myself that it's the journey that is more important in life than the destination.   Swimming Cook Strait was a remarkable experience.  I can't thank my crew enough for their support.  Also, many thanks to my family and friends for their words of encouragement.  And finally, I thought of Matt Rairdon and his family several times during my swim. My brother David who was in the smaller boat, held a sign "In memory of Matthew Rairdon".  Domestic violence needs to stop.  It is a growing global problem that needs more attention on prevention.

Mother Nature wins again...

After almost 10 hours of swimming and over 1/2 the distance traveled Pat Gallant-Charette's Cook Strait swim has ended.

Her crew reports:
"Swim over. made it half way. Ended due to Severe sea sickness. she is still vomiting. Boat pilot severe sickness too. very rough seas. She asked to get out is what is being said. can't talk to her yet, just got her wrapped up."

We're still so proud of you Mom/Pat!
Great job; love ya!
 -Sarah, Tom, Jim, Gallant family and all of your friends

I'm sure Mom will be updating her blog and answering your questions once she is back on solid land and rested. Thank you for following along on her swim journey :-)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

9 miles to go...

The swim crew reports: "She has made progress but wind is picking up and now see whitecaps"
(She has been swimming for almost 7 hours)

Swimming strong, but tide is stonger...

Text update reported by swim crew:
"Having difficulty ,very little progress in last 1.5 hrs. She continues to swim strong but tide is stronger"

She needs to break through it according to pilot . Tide changed at 10 and was to her Advantage. Thinks she is in an eddy."


Pat's crew reports she started her New Zealand Cook Strait swim at 08:26a.m. (14:26pm EST)
The crew reports it is sunny and the water is calm.
I just received word from Pat's swim crew that they are almost to South Island.
It took them 2 hours by boat to get to the start of her swim.
She will be starting her swim soon!
Text just received from Mom:
"Still at boat dock... One and half hour boat ride to start"

They have reported there have been delays in texting and no internet:(

I will report updates as I receive them.
It is currently Friday 6:20a.m. In New Zealand.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I just received an email from Mom "Pat Gallant-Charette"
as she waits in New Zealand for her marathon swim:

Hi Sarah, 
As far as my swim, weather has improved tremendously. Philip Rush will call me in 10 hours to confirm if it's a "go" for tomorrow. I will let you know as soon as I receive word.
If it is a "go", my swim will start around noon to 1p.m. Maine time zone on Thursday. Since New Zealand is 18 hours ahead, my swim will start between 6a.m. and 7a.m. on Friday.
I want you to be aware that text messages will be sent by Jeannie Pray Gallant who will be on the main boat. I have notice that some text messages that I have received from dad has been delayed. Jeannie has not had any issues with texting, but I heard that phone reception between the islands can "sometimes" be a problem.
Please let everyone know that my swim will be in memory of Matthew Rairdon. We will be wearing the "Westbrook Strong" t-shirts to show our support. Before my swim, I will mention Robbie and Johnny and their names will be on my forearm. Matt's name will be on my upper arm.
Other info: Cook Strait is 17 nautical miles with very strong tidal flow, aggressive marine life, I will be swimming between two boats. David and Philip Rush will be in the smaller zodiac boat and Jeannie will be in the larger boat with Philip's crew.
Please post on my blog updates due to several of my friends are not on Facebook. Refer Facebook friends to visit blog so you are not updating both sites.
I truly believe it will be a "go" for tomorrow . I will email you as soon as I receive confirmation.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Update from New Zealand

Weather conditions continue to be problematic.  However, it is expected for wind and rain to subside in a couple of days for 24 hours.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my boat pilot and organizer of my Cook Strait swim , Philip Rush, will approve a swim for Thursday (Maine time zone).  New Zealand is 18 hours ahead of Maine so my swim may occur on Friday morning (New Zealand time zone)My crew and I have kept busy. Today I trained in Wellington Harbor during a heavy downpour of rain and strong winds. My crew stood on the beach in their rain gear and closely monitored my training.  I am blessed to have such a dedicated crew.  Yesterday, we experienced a 6.2 mag earthquake.  No injuries were reported. Some damage throughout the Wellington area.  At the airport a one ton ceiling display of an eagle collapsed. Last week on arrival to Wellington airport, we stood beneath this beautiful display of artwork.  We have felt minor aftershocks.  As soon as I receive confirmation from Philip Rush, I will post. My daughter Sarah will receive text messages from my crew during my swim and she will post on my blog.
 My swim will be in memory of Matthew Rairdon of Westbrook who died a few months ago in my hometown from domestic violence.  He was a very caring and compassionate young man. On the day we arrived in New Zealand, headline news reported the death of two young children from domestic violence on the South Island of New Zealand. This news was very heartbreaking.  Domestic violence occurs in every country and there is no simple solution to solving this major problem.  I hope you will join me in bringing an awareness to this very tragic problem.  Thank you.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Cook Strait swim dedicated to Matthew Rairdon

 My crew and I will be leaving in a couple of days to travel to New Zealand for my upcoming swim attempt of Cook Strait scheduled for the week of January 20th.   This 17 nautical mile swim will start on the North Island and finish on the South Island. Cook Strait is known as one of the most difficult swims in the world due to its cold water, swift currents, and aggressive marine life. I will be swimming between two boats under the guidance of boat pilot Philip Rush. Again, my brother David an Orthopedic Nurse, and his wife Jeannie a cardiac nurse will accompany me as my experienced crew. I am very grateful to both of them for their unending support. My daughter Sarah, a dialysis nurse, will update my blog as soon as the swim starts.
  In prior marathon swims, I have dedicated the event to someone who has inspired me.  I am dedicating my swim in memory of 22 year old Matthew Rairdon of Westbrook who tragically died a few months ago from domestic violence.  Matthew grew up in my hometown of Westbrook, graduated from Westbrook High School and St. Joseph's College with a Degree in Nursing.  He worked in the Emergency Room at Mercy Hospital.  Matthew was a young man who was greatly loved and admired. Along with his family and friends, the Westbrook community mourns the loss of this wonderful, caring young man.
  The Westbrook community has started a fund raising drive called "Westbrook Strong..Matthew Rairdon Scholarship Fund".  They are selling T-shirts to raise money for scholarships to a Nursing School Program. As a nurse, I have joined this effort.....my crew and I will wear the "Westbrook Strong" t-shirt the day of my swim in New Zealand.  Moments prior to the start of my marathon swim, we will join hands and dedicate our day to Matthew.  
  I hope you will join us by making a donation to the Matthew Rairdon Scholarship Fund.  You can make a donation at Evergreen Credit Union, c/o Pauline Campbell, P.O Box 1038, Portland, Maine 04104-1038.    Thank you.