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, 14 August 2017
Training in Lake Tahoe
Last night I went to Camp Richardson to see the start of another swim. I met my captain, Tom Linthicum, and saw the boat, the kayak and the starting spot. It is pitch black here. No glow of lights on the horizon, just surrounded by tall black mountains. Also, the air gets quite cool at night, which I am thinking will be the biggest challenge. I will have to sprint to stay warm and the altitude may put a cap on how fast I can swim.
I'm staying in a hotel right on the beach the first 5 nights until my crew arrives and then we move to a big rental house. I have a clear view of the first half of the course and I can picture where the finish is by the slope of the distant mountains. It is very reassuring that I can see the whole outline of the lake from my balcony. One of the mountains still has snow on it. So far, from my balcony, I've seen paragliding, water skiing, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding.
Fun observations about Lake Tahoe: It never seems to rain here, even the boats don't cover up for the night. Overnight is usually calm and the wind blows from 11 am to 7 pm. The forecast is always the same. There are no bugs. Water boils sooner at a lower temperature and it takes longer to cook food at higher altitude.