2017 English Channel swim

Monday, August 7, 2017

Weather Channel: #1 Extreme Adventure: Oceans Seven

Last evening the Weather Channel had a great program on the Top Ten Extreme Adventures.  Oceans Seven was ranked as #1.     My good friend Darren Miller (USA) was featured in this incredible segment of extreme adventures .  Darren is an outstanding ambassador of marathon swimming.  Many thanks to Steven Munatones for presenting the concept of the Oceans Seven to the marathon swim community.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Lake Ontario swim

    Lake Ontario here I come!    My next marathon swim adventure will take place at the end of this month.   I will attempt to swim the 32 mile traditional course of Lake Ontario also known as the Marilyn Bell route. The swim will start in New York at Niagara-on-the-Lake and finish in Toronto, Canada near the Marilyn Bell Park.  This route was named after swim icon Marilyn Bell who became the first person in history to swim across Lake Ontario at the age of 16.  She instantly became one of the most highly celebrated swimmers in Canadian history.   Her story of her determination and grit is incredible.   I wanted to share her inspirational story with my young grandchildren  so I purchased the DVD "Heart, The Marilyn Bell Story".  We watched it together......we loved it!
         I will be following the rules of the Canadian swim organization called Solo Swims of Ontario. Their rules are similar to other marathon swim organizations.......swimmer cannot be touched,  swimmer cannot touch boat, start on land and finish on land.  I am grateful to Marilyn Korzekwa,  renowned marathon swimmer and president of the SSO, for extending her gracious hospitality in  planning and welcoming my crew and I.   My boat pilot is Christine Arsenault. She is recognized for her piloting skills.   Christine will have a 39 foot boat fully equipped with GPS and radio contact.   I will be accompanied by a smaller zodiac boat.  One of my crew members will be on the Zodiac to monitor my swim and throw me liquid carbohydrates in a water bottle attached to a line.   The larger boat will be a few hundred yards ahead to assess for currents and conditions.   The main boat and zodiac boat will have radio contact at all times.   SSO is a very well run swim organization and safety is their number one concern.  At the end of my swim,  I will be assessed by a medical crew (rescue unit).  Hopefully, I will be in good condition.   If not, then ER visit would be recommended.  Again, safety of swimmer is very important to this swim organization........it's very much appreciated.
       This swim will be very challenging due to it's unpredictable wind and currents.  Water temperature will be between 50 and 64 degrees.   Lake Ontario is known to have a drastic drop in water temperatures by 12 degrees within a two hour span.  I will swallow an internal thermometer so my internal body temperature will be closely monitored by crew on board.
    Many years ago swimmers had concerns about lampreys (looks like an eel) attacking their arms and legs.   Lampreys have a snake like body with a "sucker" mouth.   Years ago, there were stories about swimmers having to pry these little suckers from their extremities.  Yikes!!!!!     Thankfully, these pesky little creatures no longer bother swimmers.        
   I will have a spot tracker that will be activated about 30 minutes prior to start of swim.  I will post the link to the tracker on Sunday, August 27.  I expect that it will take me about 26 hours to swim 32 miles depending on conditions.    My slot starts on Tuesday, August 29.  I will have a four day slot.     The tracker will be on the boat.  My crew at home will not be posting any updates on my blog.   After the completion of my swim, regardless of the outcome,  I will post an update within 24 hours.
Looking forward to this swim......it will be another great adventure.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Thursday, June 29, 2017

PILOT WHALES SPOUTING RAINBOWS BY MIKE SCOTT

During my Molokai channel swim a pod of pilot whales came within two feet of me.  Mike Scott was the drone videographer who captured this amazing video.    My crew of David, Bill, and Jean Gallant are in the boat and witnessed these magnificent whales.    Best viewed on full screen computer.  Congratulations to Mike Scott of Oahu for capturing this rare video.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Tribute to Johnny Gallant

The morning of my English Channel swim I had my son Tom write the names "Robbie and Johnny" on my upper arms.   As many of you know, I started open water swimming after my brother Robbie died suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 34.  Robbie loved all types of sports especially swimming.  He won the Peaks to Portland (2.4 mile ocean swim) twice.  My son encouraged me to swim the Peaks to Portland as a tribute to Robbie.  Little did I know that I would fall in love with the sport of open water swimming.
     I've had many people ask me about my brother Johnny.   I want to pay tribute to him, too.  Johnny died at a very young age of 17.   He was accidentally electrocuted during a physics lab class at Westbrook High School many years ago.  His passing was a tremendous loss to our family.  He was such a wonderful and caring brother.  He was an all-around proud American boy.  He was a newspaper carrier, altar boy, and a friend to all.    He had a great sense of humor.   Johnny loved sports, too.  His favorite sport was track and field.  In high school he excelled in track and won numerous track events in his very short life.
   During my English Channel swim, I thought of Johnny and Robbie.   As I slowly walked up the beach to the finish line in France, I thought of them.   Because Robbie was the swimmer of the two, I said, "this is for you Robbie".    Johnny would have been so proud of my accomplishment, too.  And,  he probably would have jokingly said "why didn't you run up the beach to the finish line."
Johnny this swim was for you, too.  Love to both!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

2017 English Channel Swim update

Last year when I attempted to swim the 21 mile English Channel,  I developed severe motion sickness and I made the decision to stop my swim.   I was greatly disappointed but not defeated.   I asked my boat pilot Reg Brickell if he had any cancellations for 2016........I wanted to try another solo crossing of the English Channel.  He was fully booked because of his reputation as an honest and trustworthy boat pilot and he could not accommodate my request.  The Brickell brothers want all swimmers  to succeed with their goal of swimming to France no matter how long it takes.    So last fall I booked my Molokai channel swim in Hawaii.   After giving my deposit for my May swim of Molokai channel, I received an email from Reg stating that he had a cancellation for June.  Knowing that I have a very fast recovery time after a marathon swim, I decided to swim the English Channel just four weeks after my Molokai swim.
 I had a concern about the acclimation to cold water since I was acclimating to warmth for a few month prior to Molokai.    I was monitoring daily water temperatures from the Sandettie Buoy in the English Channel that was updated every hour online.   The readings consistently read 57 to 61 degrees.   I was very pleased with that recorded water temp.  On arrival to Dover,  I found the water temp at high tide averaging about 54.   Huge difference!  I had a concern about my upcoming swim.  My son Tom was my only crew.  He did an amazing job! He stood on the boat for 18 hours monitoring my swim.   I never saw him take a break.
        Yesterday when I started my swim from Samphire Hoe, England,  I  noticed immediately that the water temp was a cool 54 degrees.   About a mile into my swim,  I felt chilled and had a concern about the water temp.  Sometimes the water temp would reach 57.  I kept telling myself that the closer I get to France the water temperature would rise.  Wrong!!!!!!  Occasionally I would feel warm pockets of warmer water around 60 degrees.  But than an oil tanker would go by and would propel much colder water to the surface.  Yikes!
    By the second hour,  I started to have doubts about my swim.  I started to have frequent episodes of vomiting.......none of the prescribed medications worked.   I was feeling like this was "Deja Vu" from my failed attempt in 2016.   My boat pilot voiced his rightful concern about my vomiting.
    By the 6th hour,  the pockets of warmer water were infrequent.  I kept telling myself that water temp would improve because the sun was rising and I would feel the gentle warmth of the sun.  It did improve slightly but I was still cold.
    By the 12th hour, I could see France.    My doubts went away.   I started thinking of swimmers who inspired me to never give up......Jackie Cobell who set a world record for the longest time of 28 hours to swim the channel.   I thought of swimming legend Sal Minty-Gravett and her epic world record of a two way crossing of the English Channel.   I didn't want to quit even though I was very uncomfortable from the cold water.
    By the 14th hour, I knew I was experiencing mild dehydration because I could only tolerate sips of fluids.   As I continued my swim,  I noticed a very large dorsal fin piercing the water about 6 feet behind me.  I said to myself, "Is that a shark?"   I knew that sometimes marathon swimmers may experience hallucinations during a long swim.   "I said to myself, "Pat, you are hallucinating!"  So I continued swimming.    After my swim, my son Tom said, "Did you see that large dorsal fin behind you?  I thought it was a shark but it was a large ocean sunfish confirmed by the CSA Official."  Shortly after the dorsal fin encounter, I was greeted by a medium size jellyfish.  The sting was horrible. I had to stop my swim momentarily to remove the tentacle from my face.  My upper lip had a long tentacle sticking to it.  Ouch!  Tom saw me rapidly trying to remove the jellyfish tentacles off my face.  I jokingly said, "that's my welcome to France".  We both laughed.
  The last mile of my swim took nearly three hours to complete due to strong currents.  I was being swept along the coastline for a beautiful scenic swim.  I was finally able to reach the shore line and walk up the beach near the white cliffs at Cap Blanc.   It was a fantastic feeling to complete my goal of setting a world record for oldest woman to successfully swim the English Channel at the age of 66 years and 135 days old.
   The previous record holder is my Facebook friend Sue Oldham from Australia.  She set the oldest woman record for the English Channel in 2010 at age 64 years and 258 days.  Out of respect for Sue, I contacted her the day before my swim to let her know of my intention.   She was amazing!  She wished me success and a great swim.   During my swim, she contacted my daughter to relay a message to my son on board.  My son yelled to me during my 15th hour and said, Sue Oldman from Australia contacted Sarah and wants you to pull hard to get through those currents.  I greatly appreciate her dedication to the sport of marathon swimming.   She is planning to swim the English Channel at the end of this summer.  I wish her much success in breaking my record.   After all, records are meant to be broken.
    I want to thank my son Tom for his amazing work as crew.  He paid attention to every detail to help me become successful in reaching France.   A special thank you to my daughter Sarah who posted updates on Facebook.....she was amazing!  I want to thank my husband Jim who has always encouraged me to reach for my dreams.    Also,  I want to thank my extended family and friends for their encouraging words.   Thank you to my former co-workers.....they are an awesome hard working group who sent me heartfelt words of support.  I want to thank my boat pilots Reg and Ray Brickell for their expertise.   And lastly,  I want to thank all my Facebook friends who sent words of congratulations.    
  My last marathon swim to complete the Oceans Seven will be Cook Strait in New Zealand in 2019.  Due to popularity of this swim, there is a long waiting list.   But in the meantime, I will continue marathon swimming in other locations.   Thanks again.

Friday, June 16, 2017

2017 English Channel swim....IT"S A GO!

I will attempt a solo crossing of the English Channel on Saturday morning June 17 at approximately 5  A.M. (England time).    England is 5 hours ahead of Eastern time zone.   For those back home in Maine,  my swim will start around midnight Friday night (Eastern Time Zone).   I will be swimming under the rules of the English Channel Swimming Association.   A channel official will be on board to monitor my swim.   My son Tom is my crew.  Many of you are aware that it was my son Tom who encouraged me nearly 20 years ago to try my very first open water swim in memory of my 34 year old brother Robbie who died suddenly of a heart attack.   Tom inspired me with his words, "Ma, you can do it, if you try."   Twenty years ago I considered myself a spectator mom.   I never imagined that I would fall in love with the sport of open water swimming.   My swim will be in memory of my brother Robbie and Johnny (who died at the age of 17 in a tragic school accident).
    Reg and Ray Brickell will be piloting the Viking Princess.  They will have a tracker activated the moment my swim commences.   Please click on the link below.  Once you have click on the link,  click the highlighted words  "view track".   You will be able to view the path of my swim.   Most channel swimmers will swim in an inverted "S" pattern due to strong currents.   Also, you may visit the English Channel Association website and click on "Live Tracking" and click on the Viking Princess.  Since a tracker is provided,   my daughter Sarah will not be posting updates.    Regardless of the outcome of my swim,  I will update my blog within 24 hours of completion of my swim.
      My swim will start from Shakespeare's Beach in England and I will swim 21 miles across the channel to France.   On Saturday my age will be 66 years and 135 days old.  My friend Sue Oldham of Australia is the current record holder for oldest woman.   She was 64 years and 258 days old when she set the record in 2010.   She will attempt to swim the channel again later this summer.  I wish her much success.   I firmly believe that it's important for the younger generation to know that marathon swimming can be a lifelong sport.     It's an adventure of a lifetime.
http://www.channelswimmingassociation.com/tracking


Sunday, May 21, 2017

MOLOKAI SWIM UPDATE

Swimming between Oahu and Molokai in Hawaii was an adventure of a lifetime.  It was not an easy swim.  I found that Molokai Channel was my most difficult swim of the Ocean's Seven Challenge.  Molokai was my 6th swim of the challenge.  The difficulty was not the distance of 26 miles but the currents.   They are strong and powerful.  Many times I felt like I was swimming in place and I was.   I did have a few encounters with marine life.  I was stung at least ten times by jellyfish.  These jellyfish left painful red marks on my skin and welts.  During the 8th hour I was bumped in my leg.  I told the kayaker and he notified the main boat.  They quickly scanned the water looking for a shark.  But none was found, they presumed it was a dolphin.  After that, I stayed within a foot of the Shark Shield (electronic device to deter sharks).    A pod of pilot whales decided to visit.  My kayaker Michael Scott  was able to  take video with his drone of them and said they were about two feet from my feet. ( As soon as I receive his footage, I will post it. ).  The after effects from a marathon swim varies but typically includes a very sore tongue due to prolong salt water exposure.  My tongue is very painful and has a thick white coating.  It was difficult to speak in the first few hours due to swelling.  At the end of my marathon swim, I crawled on my hands and knees onto the beach.  It's very common to have "sea legs" causing unsteadyness. I didn't want to stand immediately and then fall and break something.  So I sat on the beach for a couple of minutes.  When I stood, I was expectedly unsteady.   My unsteady gait lasted for a few hours after my swim.  Again, it is common for many marathon swimmer to have temporary effects from a long distance ocean swim.  My skin exposure to the sun took its toll....I got a very bad sunburn.  I have yet to find a sun screen product that last for several hours while swimming.  Due to several jellyfish stings, I have several red marks and open areas on my skin. My worse sting was on my lips which caused painful swelling.  I am currently treating all wounds....some with an antibiotic ointment others with special wound bandages.  I'm treating my bad sunburn with aloe.  And  yes , it was worth the pain to have a successful swim.  The pain will last only a couple of days but the joy of a successful swim will last a lifetime.   Now to get back to my Molokai swim adventure.  During my eighth hour of swimming, I felt like throwing in the towel and quitting my swim.  I was getting sick and tired of being stung by jellyfish.  Also I was having problems with motion sickness causing several episodes of vomiting.   During these episodes of vomiting, my left leg was starting to have legs spasms.  I turned to my young kayaker and mentioned that I was thinking of quitting.  He encouraged me to continue.  He said, "you will feel so much better when the sun comes up."   He was right. I felt stronger at daybreak.
   I reached the finish line of Sandy Beach, Oahu in a time of 23 hours and 54 minutes. I became the 52nd person in their history to successfully swim across the channel and set a world record for the oldest woman.  Age 66 years 107 days old.
My crew consisted of my brother David and sister-in-law Jeannie, my brother Bill and sister-in-law Jean.   They did an incredible job.  Crewing is a very exhausting and difficult job.  I can't thank them enough.
My boat Pilot Mike Twigg-Smith was amazing.  He was able to find the correct course through the very strong currents.  My tracker was on his boat because it's not waterproof.  He would speed ahead about 400 yards and assess currents.  Then he would steer his boat back toward me.  That is why some people thought I was swimming fast and was puzzled that I was backtracking.  I had three kayakers taking two hour stints to direct me through the currents.  I would highly recommend him as a pilot for any future channel swimmers
   The Ka'iwi Channel Association swim coordinator Steve Haumschild did a fantastic job organizing all the logistics.  I would highly recommend his organization, too.
 My stay-at-home crew were amazing, too.   My daughter Sarah and son Tom posted on Facebook updates of my progress.   I can't thank them enough.   Also, my husband Jim has been a tremendous support.
   Also I want to thank Matt Goldstein and Paul Barrieau who greeted me at the finish line.  They were a tremendous help.
  I would like to thank everyone who sent emails, text messages, and phone calls.  Your heartfelt comments were greatly appreciated.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Molokai Channel Swim....It's a go!

This evening my crew and I met with my boat pilot Michael Twigg-Smith and Kaiwi Channel coordinator Steve Haumschild.   Mike made the decision to start my swim attempt of Molokai Channel on Friday, May 19 at 5p.m. (Hawaii time zone).  In Maine the time will be 11pm Friday night (Eastern Time Zone).   Steve is coordinating all the logistics of transporting us to Molokai Island.   My swim will start from Molokai Island and I will swim across the channel to Oahu.  The distance is approximately 28 miles.  I will have a spot tracker activated the moment my swim starts.  Click on the link below to follow my swim.   The tracker will update my progess every 10 minutes.  Regardless of the outcome of my swim,  I will write a follow-up swim report  within 24 hours.  This will be my 6th swim of the Ocean Seven Challenge.  My crew is very well prepared for the challenges that I will be facing.  I can't thank them enough for taking the time out of their busy schedule to come and crew for me.    Also, I would like to thank my husband Jim and children Sarah and Tom for their ongoing love and support of my marathon swim adventures. http://share.findmespot.com/shared/faces/viewspots.jsp?glId=0czIGEGQx5pYenRzzLvOnJqSr7iYxDhY1

Monday, May 8, 2017

Update on Molokai swim

On Tuesday, May 16  my crew and I will be meeting with my boat pilot to discuss target swim date.   I have a two week slot.   So far,  increase winds are in the forecast for the 17th and 18th and a swim is doubtful for those days.    I will update my blog after the meeting on the 16th and I will post a link to the tracker next week.  I would like to thank my brothers and sister-in-laws David and Jeannie Gallant and Bill and Jean Gallant for taking two weeks off from their busy schedule to crew for me.   And, many thanks to my stay-at-home crew, husband Jim and children Sarah and Tom for their words of encouragement and support.   It's greatly appreciated.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Peak training for Molokai

My training for my upcoming Molokai swim in May is going very well.   I'm swimming a minimum of five days a week, weight training three days per week, and cross training four days per week.  I am very fortunate to have an experienced crew...David and Jeannie Gallant, and Bill and Jean Gallant.   We will review all logistics of my swim including the use of a Shark Shield.   It will be the very first time that I will have a Shark Shield attached to a kayak  during an Oceans Seven swim.   Due to aggressive sharks in Hawaii,  my boat pilot requires his swimmers to have two Shark Shields.   This device will emit a harmless electronic field that will be sensitive to shark receptors.   Because the battery life lasts only 5-6 hours, I will have a spare Shark Shield charging on the boat.  I expect my swim to take 18+ hours to complete.   After five hours, a recharged Shark Shield will be exchanged on the kayak.  It will be my crew's responsibility to make sure that the battery has been turned on and working properly.  My boat pilot will be navigating a couple of hundred feet ahead of the kayak.   I will swim along side the kayak to stay within the range of the electronic field.  My swim will start late in the day from Molokai Island and I will swim into the night.  My boat pilot wants a daytime finish on Oahu due to safety reasons (boat has to navigate near rocks).    If we encounter an aggressive shark,  my swim will stop and I will be removed from the water.   Safety is always the number one priority.   At this point,  my biggest concern is motion sickness during my Molokai swim.   I have chronic issues with nausea and vomiting during marathon swims.   I will be wearing a scopolomine patch to help reduce seasickness.  Also, I will be taking an anti-nausea pill every six hours to help settle my stomach.  I am looking forward to this 28 mile swim.......it will be another wonderful adventure.