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

Sunday, December 4, 2016

2016 Marathon Swimmers Federation nomination

I am truly grateful and proud to announce that I am a finalist for the 2016 Solo Swim of the Year in the Global Marathon Swimmers Federation.  Only four women worldwide have been nominated.  The marathon swim community will vote for the winner of this prestigious award.   Regardless of the outcome,  it is such a great honor to be recognized for my record setting  21 mile solo swim of the  North Channel between Ireland and Scotland.   I would like to congratulate the other three nominees for their outstanding contribution in the marathon swim world.  All are worthy nominees for the Solo Swim Woman of the Year.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

2016 World Open Water Swimmer Woman of the Year

  I am truly grateful and honored to be one of the nominees for World Open Water Swimmer,  Woman of the Year.    Thirteen women were nominated worldwide for this prestigious award.  Anyone can vote.    Please read all the nominations for Woman of the Year,  Man of the Year, Performance of the Year and Offering of the Year.   Congratulations to all nominees.  Voting has started and will end on December 31, 2016.  Winner will be announced on January 1, 2017.
https://www.worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com/2016-wowsa-awards/

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Molokai Channel Swim


My next marathon swim will be in May 2017  between Molokai and Oahu islands in Hawaii.     This will be my sixth swim of the Ocean's Seven challenge.   Molokai channel located in the Pacific Ocean is known for its abundant marine life,  strong currents, mighty wind,  and steep waves.  Because of the degree of difficulty of this 28 mile marathon swim, I have  hired experts from Hawaii.    Steve Haumschild of Kaiwi Channel Swim Association  will coordinate many of the logistics.   He has hired two experienced paddlers to take turns kayaking near me.    The 32 foot lead boat will be piloted by Mike Twigg-Smith.  Due to aggressive marine life in the area, Mike has required (mandatory) two Shark Shields  (purchased by swimmer) for the swim to take place.   The Shark Shield emits a harmless electronic impulse to deter sharks.  The Shark Shield will be applied to the kayak and I will swim near the kayak to stay in the electronic field.    My biggest concern is surprisingly not the sharks, but the potential of getting motion sickness due to sea conditions.   I will be wearing a scopolamine patch and take a prescription anti-nausea medication.   Ever since childhood, it doesn't take much for me to experience motion sickness.  Hopefully the medications will significantly help.   Another concern is the possibility of getting stung by box jellyfish.  These invertebrates are known for giving very painful stings worse than Portuguese man-of-war.  Their tentacles can produce toxins that can be darn right painful and cause severe reactions. They are known to come to the surface of the water at night to spawn.   I've been stung by several other types of jellyfish but never by box jellyfish.  I can tolerate a lot of pain but a toxic reaction is a potential risk.  Crew will be well prepared and trained in the treatment of box jellyfish stings. 
    My crew will consist of  David and Jeannie Gallant and Bill and Jean Gallant.  Jeannie will be on land during my swim to help relay messages from crew to family and friends back home.    On the day of my swim, my crew and I will fly to Molokai Island from Oahu.   Once we land at the airport, we will take a taxi to the beach.    During that time my boat pilot will be navigating his way from Oahu to Molokai a three hour boat trip.  The reason my boat crew and I will not travel by boat to the start of my swim is that historically many swimmers and crew became seasick before the swim started.   When my boat pilot arrives in Molokai, there are no boat docks.  My crew will need to swim a short distance out to his boat.  My swim will commence at that time.   The boat pilot prefers that all swimmers start their swim late in the day, swim into the night at the beginning of the swim and hopefully land at Sand Beach in Oahu during daylight hours the following day.    (All swim and crew supplies will be give to boat pilot twenty-four hours prior to the start of swim.).  He recommends landing on Oahu in daylight due to rough terrain.  If currents push me beyond Sand Beach, it will be easier for pilot to find a safe finish line during daytime hours.   My training is going well and I am looking forward to my next swim adventure.   Aloha!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Inspire Maine project

 After my North Channel swim in August 2016, I was contacted by Fitzgerald Photo for an interview and photo shoot for their Inspire Maine project.  I was humbled and honored to be part of their series of inspiring Mainers.   This photo was taken at Kettle Cove in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.    The photographer Brian Fitzgerald is based in Portland, Maine. Also, I would like to thank his assistant Charlie Widdis for providing great lighting for the photo.   Fitzgerald Photo can be contacted at www.fitzgeraldphoto.com
 Please visit their website to view many inspirational Mainers  www.inspiremaine.com
Many thanks to Brian Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Photo.

Friday, August 26, 2016

2016 Pat's North Channel Swim written by Fergal Somerville



By early evening on 24 August 2016 Pat Gallant-Charette had taken 65 years, 204 days, 14 hours and 22 minutes to become the oldest ever to swim the North Channel (Ireland to Scotland). The North Channel is the most difficult of all Channel Swims; notorious for strong tides, blooms of jellyfish and unpredictable weather. Undeterred by a 2013 attempt halted within 600 metres of the Scottish Coast in deference to a sprained wrist, rough seas and an outgoing tide Pat vowed to return. In 2015 she sat in windblown and rain soaked Donaghadee on the North Down coast earnestly waiting for a safe weather window to make her second attempt. The weather didn’t turn and Pat returned to Maine to continue her training regime, again vowing to return.

Mother nature relented and welcomed Pat (and son Tom) to Donaghadee on 23 August. Expert pilot, Quinton Nelson, broke the news that the 3rd attempt would commence at 5:00am on 24 August. Pat was ready and after a quick dip in the harbour took to the nest in advance of a 3:00am call.

By 5:16 Pat leapt from the pilot boat south of Donaghadee Harbour. Thereon a gruelling physical challenge that has vanquished many swimmers started for the oldest individual ever to take on the challenge. Over 1,200 have swum the English Channel. By August 2016 only 40 individuals had swum the North Channel.

The North Channel pinches the Irish Sea and Atlantic Ocean. Tides are funnelled through the channel at speed that moves swimmers and vessels in directly North – South directions and swimmers need to travel East – West.

Taking advantage of the tide Pat swam diligently hour after hour after hour; pausing (every 60 minutes for a 30 second feed of Gatorade or carbohydrate embellished porridge. She swam alongside the beautifully restored 1950s lifeboat, watched diligently by Tom, Quinton, Molly, Jordan and myself.

Messages of support from family, friends and fellow distance swimmers were relayed and boosted the spirits. The sun rose and the wind blew gently across the Channel after the disappointment of 2015 this day was proving to be highly satisfactory. Pat swam on hour after hour after hour. Watching a marathon swim informs the soul of what a human body can endure. It nonetheless is very difficult to take in. Time on the boat flies and it feels as if hourly feeds are overlapping. And yet the swimmer moves serenely throughout the day.

Pat was joined by a family of seagulls and one in particular who shadowed her throughout the day and paddled along behind her. The side of the boat was bedecked in plastic coated photos of her beloved daughter (Sarah), husband Jim and Sarah's three children and at each feed she could see each of them cheering her on from far away Maine. Also supporting her were Robbie and Johnny. 

Within five hours the half-distance mark was reached. Pat was not told. To tell a swimmer that they are halfway leads them to realise how tired they already are and how they have to replicate the same effort over the same distance only the second half only starts when they are exhausted from the effort of the first half distance. If that wasn’t cruel enough the North Channel offers a particularly difficult segment. The average swim time is 14+ hours, but every successful swimmer will tell you that it is only at 10 hours that the true physical challenge is unveiled. Having taken advantage of the flowing tide on the Donaghadee side the ebbing tide on the Scottish side pulls the swimmer away from the target of Portpatrick and while the tide pushes the swim northwards along the coast the protruding coast pushes the water back into the channel; the channel swim’s final hours are against a tide that relentlessly pushes the exhausted combatant away.

At 8 hours it looked like Pat would complete the swim in 12+ hours. At 9 hours it looked as if the swim would take longer than 14 hours. Pat had previously swam for over 16¾ hours, but by such time on 24 August she would have been back in the middle of the Channel. Pilot Quinton Nelson and supporters were determined not to let that happen. Pat swam, and swam and swam. At the 10th hour she was joined in the water for 50 minutes for company and encouragement. The swim was within 3 miles of the Scottish coast for almost one quarter of the total time of the swim. The last mile of the swim took almost three hours. Pat was encouraged and even though some of the swim went in reverse when the call came to make the final push at 7:15pm she put the head down and pulled one arm after the other to bring her to the rocks at the base of Killintringan Lighthouse, almost 3 miles north of Portpatrick; the idyllic capital on the Galloway peninsula that was passed going sideways in the preceding hours.

Pat’s success was exactly as she had planned. By 8:00pm on 24 August 2016 the social network world was buzzing with the news. A 65 year old had just completed the most difficult channel in the world. On the boat, Pilot Quinton Nelson welcomed Pat back. She had swam for 14 hours and 22 minutes and as she stood on the deck she appeared to have returned from a dip. She was tired but not exhausted, elated but not emotional. She realised her achievement and the rest of us could only stand in awe and applaud.



But I think over the next few days and weeks the world will wake up to Pat Gallant-Charette’s achievement. As a culture we have been raised to respect the elderly. We were reared with the target retirement of 65 which conveyed the expectation to be revered as grandparents and the right to be respected as experienced citizens. These stereotypes have been challenged over recent years. On 24 August, 2016 Pat Gallant-Charette has shown that ‘65’ is a number and physical activity is not monopolised by the young. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

2016 North Channel result

On Wednesday, August 24 I had a successful solo swim of the grueling 21 mile North Channel between Ireland and Scotland in a time of 14 hours and 22 minutes. Setting a new world record for the Oldest Woman to successfully swim across the channel.  On the day of my swim I was 65 years and 204 days old.  The North Channel widely known as the most challenging swim in the world.  Mother Nature was kind and gave calm conditions. Water temp averaged 55 degrees Fahrenheit, 13 degrees Celsius.  My boat pilot said that I actually swam 26 miles due to strong currents. With calm conditions, Lion Mane jellyfish rise to the surface.  I was stung over every inch of my body. At one point during my swim, a jellyfish with a dome the size of a dinner plate, lodge onto my goggles.  I was viewing the underside of its dome with its tentacle wrapped on my face. I shook my head with hopes of it falling off....it did not. I had to pry it's dome off my goggles and face.  My skin was inflamed by the stings but the cold water help soothe my skin. It was a unique experience! Ha! Ha!
Prior to my swim I had my son write on my arm the name of my brother Robbie who died of a heart attack at the age of 34 and my brother Johnny who died at the age of 17.  I thought of them during my swim.
I became only the 41st person in history to have a successful channel crossing of this unforgiving channel.  For a successful crossing, it takes a pilot like Quinton Nelson with great navigational skills to find the best route and tides for the swimmer.  Quinton thank you.  Also, having a crew knowledgeable about marathon swimming is vital.  My son Tom did an incredible job. He knew exactly what needed to be done. Many thanks to my son Tom.  Fergal Somerville another crew member was amazing. He went well beyond the scope of a crew member. At the end of my swim, he jumped into the water to film me touching Scotland.  I can't thank him enough. Also. I would like to thank Molly the official for the Irish Long Distance Swim Association. She was fantastic.  My crew at home was a huge help.  My daughter Sarah placed  postings on Facebook and my blog. Also, she sent several photos of family members to Fergal. Fergal had contacted Sarah earlier in the week for family photos. He enlarged the photos and laminated each one.  Each hour of my swim my crew would attach a photo to the railing on the boat.  It was wonderful to see all the photos.  Thank you. My husband Jim has been a huge support for all my marathon swims. I can't thank him enough.  He's the best!   I want to thank my extended family members especially  my brother David and sister-in-law Jeannie for helping to crew for other swims. I want to thank everyone who posted words of encouragement and support on Facebook and my blog.   I want to thank Jackie Cobell's for inspiring me to continue with my swim no matter how long it would take.  Jackie has the world record for longest time of 28 hours to swim across the English Channel.  Also, a special thank you to Sal Minty Gravett for giving me advise on taking a prescription anti-nausea medication.  It was a tremendous help. Also, I want to thank Dr. Gregory Sawyer of Maine Medical Partners, who performed right shoulder surgery last September.  It was a success! I have no shoulder issues. Thank you.   And thank you to David Knop, P.T. (and his team)  at Livevital P.T. and Performance in Portland, for helping me in the first crucial months after my surgery.  Thank you to swim instructor Patti Drew of  Casco Bay YMCA. She was instrumental in correcting my many flaws in my freestyle.  Lastly I want to thank everyone for posting words of encouragement and support on Facebook and my blog....it is greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Swim update:
She did it!!!!
My mom, Pat Gallant Charette, has completed her North Channel crossing (Ireland to Scotland), the oldest swimmer to make this crossing in the World in a time of 14hrs and 23minutes.
Holy. Smokes. Awesome!!!!!
Way to go Mom!
We're so proud of you!!! 👊🏻

 Mom will be posting an update to her blog soon
SWIM UPDATE:
boat crew reports Pat has been swimming for eight hours and still going strong.
She has gone through several fields of jellyfish and still pushing forward.
She was vomiting hourly in the beginning of her swim but that has subsided over the last few hours.
 The sea is very calm and she is about 6 miles away from where she needs to be.
 The boat pilot said it doesn't get much better than these weather conditions; he said it was probably the best day all year in Ireland!

This is the link to her boat tracker:  

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0lK7A9ru75SgFiEcnYkqhni44nBqnxjcf

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

It's a go!

I will attempt a solo crossing of the North Channel on Wednesday,  August 24. My swim will start in Donaghadee, Ireland at 5:15am local time. In Maine with the time zone change 12:15am.   Fergal Somerville will activate his tracker.  See link posted a few days ago.   Many thanks to my family and friends for their words of encouragement and support.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Tracker for North Channel swim

http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0lK7A9ru75

This tracker is not online until my swim starts.  I will post the date and time of my North Channel swim attempt.  Many thanks to crew member Fergal Somerville of Dublin, Ireland for providing a tracker.  This tracker is automatically updated every 10 minutes in real time.

Upcoming North Channel swim

My next marathon swim will be a solo attempt of the grueling North Channel between Ireland and Scotland.   It is regarded as one of the most challenging swims in the world due to very cold water temperatures,  prolific blooms of jellyfish, and unpredictable weather.  At the age of sixty-five, I am looking forward to this incredible adventure. My biggest concern is the weather.  Last year my crew and I waited for nearly two weeks for winds to calm and it never happened.  I returned to Maine without a swim.  I'm hoping that Mother Nature will bless the Channel with calm conditions.  My boat pilot is Quinton Nelson (awesome pilot).  I will swim under the rules governed by the Irish Long Distance Swimming Association.  My crew will consist of my son Tom and good friend friend Fergal Somerville of Dublin.  Fergal will activate his tracker the day of my swim (I will post link). This tracker will post live tracking updates every ten minutes.  My slot is August 26 to the 30th.  This will be my 5th swim of the Ocean's Seven. I have completed the Strait of Gibraltar, Tsugaru Strait, English Channel, and Catalina.
I have carefully tweaked my plans for a successful crossing of the North Channel.   I will be wearing a scopalomine patch and take an antiemetic before the swim starts.  A few weeks ago I did not wear a patch or take a prescription antiemetic before my English Channel solo attempt.  After 10 hours and 30 minutes of swimming, my swim was aborted due to severe motion sickness (uncontrollable vomiting).  It was a huge mistake on my part. I presumed after two years of no motion sickness during my training swims that I would not have any issues the day of my EC attempt...WRONG!!!!  Live and learn!  Keeping my fingers crossed for calm conditions and no further issues with motion sickness.
  Many thanks to my family and friends for their ongoing encouragement and support. Now, onto the next adventure.
 

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Post Swim update

Yesterday, I attempted to swim across the English Channel with hopes of setting a new world record for the oldest woman.   My marathon swim training prepared me well for this 21 mile swim.  However, Mother Nature provided very choppy conditions and I started getting motion sickness.  My crew and I were well prepared for that dilemma.  I was taking motion sickness medication daily for three days prior to my swim. Also, we had an array of medicines on board to deal with motion sickness.   Nothing worked.  I started vomiting within 2 hours of my swim. As conditions worsened, so did my vomiting.  I was prepared to swim no matter how long it took me to reach France.  Even if it meant breaking Jackie Cobell's longest time record of 28 hours.  I even had the number "28" written on my arm as a reminder of her epic swim.  But, my stomach could not tolerate any feeds. During my swim training, I had prepared myself for this type of event by swimming for six hours without food or fluid.  I felt like I had the endurance to reach France.  However, my boat pilot said that conditions were going to worsen. And, probably my vomiting would worsen, too.   I respected his concern.  My crew and I made the decision to abort my swim at 10 hours and 30 minutes    I was greatly disappointed but not defeated.  In life, we all deal with disappointments but we learn from these events.  We look forward and rise up. Many thanks to my boat crew David and Jeannie Gallant.  They are an outstanding boat crew. Also, I want to thank my husband Jim who is a huge positive support in my life.  Many thanks to my children for their unending love and support. Also, I want to thank boat pilots  Ray and Reg Brickell for their honesty and great piloting skills.  And a special thank you to all my extended family members and friends for their words of encouragement and support.   Thank you.    Now, on to the next adventure!

Saturday, July 30, 2016

SWIM UPDATE:
News from crew...
"Swim over. Rough seas. She couldn't stop vomiting couldn't keep any nutrients down therefore losing energy and not making progress"

 Thank you for following along on my mom's swim journey attempt of the Englisg Channel .
She will updating her blog soon with more details.


Hi all!
This is Sarah Charette (Pat's' daughter). I will be posting updates from Pat's boat crew.
I just recieved word Pat has started her swim!
"Started about 7:10 England time several boats of relay teams started before us. Appears to be about 5 boats ahead of us as we begin"

Now that her boat the Viking Princess has live tracking I will only be posting updates when I hear from her boat crew.

click on link below for live tracking:

Friday, July 29, 2016

It's a Go!

On Saturday, July 30th I will attempt a solo crossing of the English Channel.  Start time will be 2am in Maine and in England 7am.    You can follow a live tracker by going to the English Channel Swimming Association and click on live tracker. Click on Viking Princess (Pilot Reg Brickell).  It will give updates every 10 minutes.  When you click on Viking Princess, there will be an icon with weather information, at the bottom of the icon the word "track" is highlighted.  Click on "track", this will show how far the current will push me off course.  Most swimmers swim in an "S" pattern.  Only the lucky swimmers swim straight across the channel.   At the age of 65 years and 179 days,  I continue to enjoy this wonderful sport of marathon swimming.  My crew will be my brother David and sister-in-law Jeannie. They are fantastic!  I want to thank my husband and children for always encouraging me to reach for my dreams.  

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Jackie Cobell ---Inspirational female swimmer

I've been an open water swimmer for the past 18 years.  Along the way I have been greatly inspired by many well known swimmers such as swim pioneer Lynne Cox, Queen of the English Channel Alison Streeter, and renowned Marathon Swim Hall of Fame swimmer Carol Sing.  But I have to admit, the number one female marathon swimmer who has inspired me the most is England's Jackie Cobell who successfully crossed the English Channel at the age of 56 in 28 hours and 44 minutes.  Setting a world record for the slowest swim across the English Channel.  Her tenacity, drive, and pure grit is beyond words. She is a role model for all swimmers.   On my next marathon swim I will be thinking of her determination.  Because of her never give up attitude.....my crew will write the number "28" on my arm as a reminder of her epic swim.  Thank you, Jackie Cobell, for your many contributions in the marathon swim world.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Fueling during marathon swim training

I have been an open water swimmer for over 18 years. During that time, I have tried numerous products to fuel my training and to consume while swimming a marathon. The goal of liquid nutrition is to get a great source of energy and hydration from that product.  I have found that many products may taste great on land but after swimming for several hours in salt water, it does not.  We are all individuals with our own likes and dislikes.  Testing a product is done during several training swims. I have enjoyed these products with great effect:  Maxim, Hammer Nutrition Ultra Endurance Fuel (unflavored), Nature Smart CarboPro (non-sweet neutral flavor), UCan Super Starch (low carbohydrate).  Also, I have added a very small amount of powdered Gatorade to lightly flavor such products as Maxim, Ultra Endurance Fuel and CarboPro. Every few hours I drink plain water.  About every 5 hours during a marathon swim, I like real food such as half cup of canned diced peaches in heavy syrup or a Fig Newton cookie.  These products work for me.  You may want to test other products not listed here.....Go for it!  You know your likes and dislikes better than anyone. I can't emphasize enough to test these products during a long open water training swim.  You may discover for yourself that your mother's oatmeal cookie may taste great at home but after swimming for several hours, the sweetness may be nauseating. But on the other hand, it may be a taste of heaven...you be the judge.   Again, test these products before you swim your marathon.  You'll be glad you did.   Happy training!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Peak training season for North Channel swim

In less than six months I will be in Ireland to attempt a solo crossing of the North Channel.  My swim will start in Donaghadee, Ireland and end in Portpatrick, Scotland.  This 21 mile swim is regarded as one of the most difficult swims in the world due to very cold water temperature, prolific blooms of jellyfish, and unpredictable conditions of the Irish Sea.
At the age of 65, I believe I can be successful in this crossing.  My peak swim training season is in full force.   I am swimming six days per week.  Each day is variable swim training of 3+ hours.  Every two weeks I have a very long swim endurance day. As each month gets closer to my target swim date, my endurance swims will increase in time (six to 10 hours).  Also, cross train 5 days per week and weight lifting 3 times per week. My cross training includes eliptical machine, treadmill, and stationary bike. Because ocean temperature in Maine is still very cold at 36 degrees Fahrenheit, I am currently training in a pool.  However, I expect to start ocean swims within the next two months and slowly transition to all ocean swims.  To help with the process of cold acclimation, I have been taking cold showers and going for walks in lightweight clothing in very cold temperatures here in Maine....It works!   I've been taking a stroke development class to work on improving my freestyle technique. This class has been a valuable asset to my training. I've been incorporating a six beat kick. This has been a huge adjustment.....for years I used a two beat kick, basically my legs went along for the ride when I swam any marathon.  Now, I feel like I getting a better workout during my swims with a six beat kick.  I am very happy that I decided to have someone evaluate my stroke.  I am doing everything possible to have a successful swim.....now, for Mother Nature to be on my side.