2017 English Channel swim

Sunday, May 21, 2017


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.   He was able to capture a video of them spouting rainbows from their blowhole.   Incredible footage!!  ( 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.