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. http://sashbear.org/en/
Monday, 21 August 2017
Even though the conditions were almost ideal, it was my toughest and longest lake swim since Lake Ontario.
The swim started late at 8:30 pm because we had to wait for a thunder shower to pass. I waded into the 20 deg. C waters of beautiful Lake Tahoe at Camp Richardson, California.The first couple of hours, the light slowly faded behind the ring of mountains around the lake. Then the stars came out, I've never seen the Milky Way in such detail before. After about 3 hours, the washing machine-like swells started. I seemed to be going up and down randomly. These appeared on and off throughout the night, lasting up to an hour at a time. I can understand why swimmers unaccustomed to night swimming would find this disorienting and nauseating. Tom thinks they are caused by a desert crosswind and water sloshing from a strong wind the previous day. Jodi says the winds blew from all directions.
After about 4 hours, the cold air (down to 15 deg. C.) and breeze started cooling me off. A brief sprint was sufficient to warm me up. However, I couldn't keep up sprinting because the altitude made breathing hard. I noticed around 3 am that whenever I sprinted, I also threw up a bit. This culminated in full out retching. After miserable hour full of quitting thoughts, it dawned on me that the bonamine (Bonine) I had taken at 6 pm had run out after 8 hours. Within minutes of taking a second one, all the nausea went away. That's the thing about marathon swimming, symptoms like pain, nausea and headache come and go and environmental changes happen from hour to hour. It usually goes away if you keep going.
When I took the second pill, I had trouble swallowing it. By the time the break ended, I was shivering. I stayed chilled and having to sprint frequently until after the eclipse ended and the sun finally got warm.
The eclipse: The sky looked like someone had sprinkled black dust in the sky. The water lost it's beautiful cobalt blue colour. The sun was still shining, but it lost it's warmth and a breeze picked up. The eclipse lasted about an hour.
When I warmed up, then my shoulders, back and wrists started to hurt. I slowed down for a couple of hours, but the the pain passed and I was able to pick it up to finish the swim in 17 hours and 2 minutes and 46 seconds at Hyatt Beach, in Incline Village, Nevada.
Oldest woman and first Canadian to swim Lake Tahoe!!!
Thank you to all my crew: Thie, Paula and my husband and especially observer Jodi DiLascio who face-timed her mother, Marilyn Bell DiLascio, to me live. Thank you to everyone who sent prayers and good wishes.
Ir's not too late to donate to Sashbear!