For those of you who don't know me, I swam Lake Ontario the easy way in 1983 and the hard way in 1984, becoming the first person to have swum it in both directions. I "came out of retirement" to swim the English Channel in 2011. I won the Van Audenaerde cup for the toughest endurance feat of the year. In 2013, I was the oldest Canadian to swim the Catalina Strait in California. After swimming around Manhattan Island in 2014 (oldest Canadian), I became the first Canadian to complete the coveted Triple Crown of open water swimming (English Channel, Catalina Strait and Manhattan). In 2015, I was the first to swim between three provinces: from Nova Scotia north to New Brunswick and across the Northumberland Strait to Prince Edward Island. In March 2016, I fulfilled a 3 year long dream, to be the first Canadian (and oldest woman) to swim across the icy, treacherous Cook Strait between the South and North Islands of New Zealand. In August 2016, I swam across Cape Cod, becoming only the 9th person and the first Canadian to swim this historic Pilgrim route across the shark infested swirling tidal waters. On August 20-21, 2017, I was the oldest woman and the first Canadian to swim the length of Lake Tahoe from Camp Richardson, California in the south to Hyatt Beach, Nevada in the north, a distance of 34 kilometers. The major challenge was the altitude of the lake, at 6200 feet or 1897 m. (See links below for more detail).
On July 19, 2018, I swam halfway across the Santa Barbara Channel in California and then encountered a very large shark that was demonstrating predatory behaviour. They wisely pulled me out. We sailed to the start again 5 days later but the winds were too high. I had to come back to California September 12 to complete the 30.6 km swim from Santa Cruz Island to Silver Strand Beach in Oxnard, California in a time of 18 hrs 45 minutes. I am the first Canadian (and oldest woman) to swim from Santa Cruz Island and the first Canadian and oldest person to complete the California Triple Crown. I capped off my marathon swimming career by swimming across Lake Superior at the mouth of Whitefish Bay on August 19, 2018 in 12 hrs 9 minutes. This 29 km route had never been done before, in fact I was only the third person to ever swim across Lake Superior. The water was chilly at 16.5 degrees Celsius. This was the fulfilment of a 20 year dream.
In 2019 and beyond, I am semi-retiring from marathon swimming by setting smaller goals that are less stressful and expensive. Thank you for your support over the last decade of adventure.
Saturday, 22 June 2019
The forecast was for 0% chance of rain and wind from the northwest at 9 to 15 km/hr. We had a pre-swim water temperature from the south end of the lake of 20 degrees C. My big concern was that the air temperature was going to be 13-15 deg. C the first couple of hours. But we had to start as early as possible because the winds and boat traffic would pick up in the afternoon.
June 21 was beautiful, almost calm, sunny morning in Rosseau around 7:45 when I stepped into the chilly water. Turns out the water was 15.5 - 16.5 deg C the first two and a half hours and then settled in at 17.5 for most of the swim. There were big patches of 18.5. In the afternoon, it was more cloudy and windy. At the decision point, about halfway, the water temp plummeted to 16 again but the wind pushed me around the corner towards Port Sandfield. Not a hard decision. The miraculous thing was that the wind was almost always at my back except for one bay that was about a kilometer long where it was more broadside.
We were all excited that I arrived in Port Sandfield after 7 hrs and 43 minutes of swimming, over an hour earlier than predicted, due to the favourable winds. The distance is 18.2 km.
It is a beautiful lake with spectacular cottages and boathouses and even a few float planes landing. Windermere Marina was most helpful and accommodating in renting the pontoon boat. Thank you also to my family and crew, including Paula Jongerden who paddled almost half of the swim, and Colleen Shields, the Swim Master, who made this swim official.
Sunday, 16 June 2019
We are still planning for Friday early morning. The chance of showers keeps appearing and disappearing in the forecast. We will keep our fingers crossed for sunshine and calm winds. The plan is to go from the town of Rosseau to Port Sandfield (19 km). But we will decide at the halfway point. The other option is to go to Port Carling (18 km) if the wind is strong from the southwest.
Saturday, 1 June 2019
As you may remember, I swam a 17 km length of Lake Rosseau back in 2009 from Rosseau to Brakenrig. That swim, however, was not documented, so it "doesn't count" according to international standards.
There is still damage from flooding on Lake Rosseau and there is still a significant flow out of the lake into Lake Muskoka. It has also been a cold spring, so I am not expecting the temperature to be toasty on June 21.