In 2018, I am planning my final 2 big marathon swims. On July 18-20, I am planning on swimming the Santa Barbara Channel from Santa Cruz Island to Oxnard, California, a distance of 30 km. This swim is similar to the Catalina swim, but 100 km further north, on the north side of Los Angeles. The water is colder and the currents stronger. The main reason for doing this swim is to complete the "California Triple Crown" (Catalina, Lake Tahoe and the Santa Barbara Channel). Only 7 people have completed these 3 swims - and no Canadians! I would also be the first Canadian to swim from Santa Cruz Island, which is the "crown jewel" of the Santa Barbara islands and an ecological and marine preserve in the Channel Island National Park.

During the window of August 16-22, I am hoping to fulfill a 20 year dream by swimming across the eastern end of Lake Superior, from Whitefish Point, Michigan to Pancake Bay, Ontario, a distance of 29 km. This is a new route. Only 2 people have swum Lake Superior before, down at the western tip of the Lake. In addition to the cold water (hoping for 15-19 deg. c) and big wave challenge, this swim is interesting because it passes less than 20 km from the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world. The massive storms and waves are legendary.

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).

I am pleased to be able to use this opportunity to raise money for Sashbear, an organization founded by Lynn Courey, whose daughter, Sasha, a swimmer with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), died by suicide in 2011. Sashbear funds education programs for therapists, families and in schools. I have dedicated my psychiatric career to the treatment and research of BPD, which has a suicide rate of 10%. More treatment programs and support for families are desperately needed in Canada. Please support my swims by donating to Sashbear. Thank you.

Friday, 14 July 2017

A month to departure

   In addition to putting in the most mileage per week of the season in the last 4 weeks before departure, I am busy with a lot of swim organization. There is a lot to do.
   First of all, I am working on the fundraising by sending out my flyer and blog address far and wide and helping Sashbear with the publicity.
   I have been ordering swim suits from a variety of places. I finally found the perfect suit - the Speedo aquablade record breaker. It is made of a durable polyester lycra blend that is slicker than skin and significantly reduces drag and it has water-channeling stripes that streamline water away from your body. The best part is the fit.
   I am helping my crew understand their roles and get organized for the trip.
   I am ordering my high tech feeds from a variety of places. I have to have new sealed containers for the border. (You wouldn't want them trying to guess the identity of the mystery white powder in the baggie). This year I am going with Waxy Maize for calories, Maxim electrolyte-maltodextrin for electrolytes, Hammer's Perpetuem for energy and electrolytes, and Boost, which has more nutrition than I need but never upsets my stomach. I also have to order a special easily absorbed Magesium supplement to prevent muscle cramping.
   I am updating the maps on my GPS and getting road maps from CAA.
   I am searching the websites for Walgreens and Rite Aid, which are drugstores that are nearby, to make sure they have the medications my crew and I need for emergencies, so I don't have to pack them. This includes nausea, pain, acid reflux, sunburn, and skin abrasion remedies. Fortunately I don't have to shop for jellyfish remedies this time.
   Oh, and I forgot to mention that the physiotherapist and my trainer have given me a total of 15 different exercises to do daily to keep my joints balanced and pain-free.
   Finally, I am updating my packing list.

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