Stage1: Canada Day-July 1st
My total distance: 15.5km
Going into the Swim, I was filled with excitement. It was a beautiful send-off: we sang O Canada and had supporters left and right cheering us on. We began our voyage with very windy conditions. I remember being slapped in the face by the waves for the first couple of kilometres. Our support crew was getting worried about the wind , however, when we looped around the corner, the wind was calmer. This was my first Marathon swim, and my first time experiencing serious chafing from swimming so long.
Stage2: July 5th
My total distance: 19km
I know its repetition, but another beautiful send off! Stepping in was a little gooey. Once we got in, 16 seals escorted us out. As I was doing my usual loops, swimming around the pod, when a seal swam under me. The beginning of the swim was wonderful, I was having a blast! The water was shallow enough that I could look on the bottom and watch all the sea life on the ocean floor.
As we continued our journey, I started to notice jellyfish. I was stunned how beautiful these creatures were, beautiful long tentacles, an orange head. It was surreal having these creatures underneath me. Then they started to get closer… a little close for my liking. At one point I almost ran into a 20 ft long jellyfish, a lion’s mane jellyfish too. At certain points, we were surrounded by jellies; I was quite nervous, but I kept swimming. When we were swimming in the jellyfish farm, a current started to pick up so I quickened my pace, because I don’t like going slow. As we slowly continued, the chafing on my neck started to cause more and more pain. I didn’t like the eating breaks because it would hurt to lift my neck. This was a hard swim because we had to cross a shipping lane right at the end. When we were waiting, the pain was so bad, I was putting so much energy keeping my neck from hitting the saltwater, I began to shiver. At that point, Susan said I needed to go on the boat. I jumped on the boat to rest for the last km. Then at the very end for the last 200m, we had to finish by swimming in, so I took off half of my wetsuit to relieve my chafing. I jumped in that 14-degree water. One of the swimmers let out a little laugh at my expression from getting in. We swam into the beach, and after that I ate a whole pizza. I am so amazed by my fellow swimmers with this one!
Stage3: July 12th
My total: 14km
This one was a very calm start. The water was quite flat. At the beginning, there was an island filled with seals. Then we had to cross so me boat traffic, which got really wavy. Then we started to get closer to the local tourist dock of Sidney. I really enjoyed this part because it was so shallow. The sand was so beautiful. We swam through amazing kelp forests, some more than 40ft long. The temperature dropped to 13 degrees. It was such a neat perspective to be in the water looking at all the people walking around on the dock. Then for the last kilometre, our other swimming pod joined us, Pod K. Pod K swam their hearts out to finish us off. When we got to the beach, there were so many people cheering us on and there to support us.
Stage 4: July 18
My total: 18km
Avery quiet start; It was just us and the water. The water was colder this time around 12 degrees. A few kilometres in, we extended our distance because we hugged the shoreline for warmth. Around halfway, the current started to pickup, but we still managed to get through it. Eventually, it was too shallow to swim, there was a sandbar in our way. We walked across the Sandbar.I did some skipping along the sandbar too. Looking back, I think I should have been more careful because there were huge crabs walking around, oh well. Then we continued our swim, running into more kelp forests. At one point, I asked how far we were. Susan said just around the corner. I replied back, just around the corner or , “Just around the corner.” Sometimes it’s hard to picture your finish line when you can’t see it. When we were around the corner, we picked up pod K for our last kilometre. We were almost there! Finally, we finished together and were smiling.
Halfway Break: July 25
Stage 5: August 3rd
My total: 17.5km
The swim was postponed for about 30 minutes due to heavy rainfall. When we could finally start, we got in and the water was around 11 degrees. The Ocean was very flat and calm, the sight was quite beautiful. The first 4km we didn’t loop around any bends or anything; It was just straight. Then, when we crossed around a bend, a current hit us. It was quite strong. As I was swimming, I noticed a huge kelp wip by me in the other direction. When we stopped for our eating break, I grabbed my bar and continuously kicked forward so I wouldn’t lose the distance I already swam. (A couple kilometres later) I took another stroke and something nipped me. I didn’t know what it was, and I decided to not investigate. Later, I heard from our kayakers that there were crabs just chilling on the top of the water. After hearing this, I am glad I didn’t check it out. Near the end of the swim, K pod joined us. In The last km there were a lot of rocks we had to swim around and forests of seaweed. Finally, I saw the end and decided to sprint in. Another one done!
Stage 6: August 8th
My total: 15.5km
I remember very vividly getting in the water on this swim. I always make sure to prepare myself to step into these frigid ocean waters. But, as I stepped in on this one, it was really cold. My first thought was that I haven’t been in these temperatures in a couple days so I just needed to get used to it again.
Fast forward to when we started swimming: The conditions were great! Very flat water and some current working in our favour. The swimmers did amazing! It was challenging because this was the coldest it has ever been. There was a point when it was just me and Susan in the water.Then, my Dad finally blurted out the temperature: degrees 9!. Now I know why he didn’t mention the temperature before because everyone would have started panicking. I noticed my hands were in claw form now, and I could barely squeeze my water bottle to drink. The good news was the cold distracted me from the pain and the pain distracted me from the cold, so win win, right? We were making great time because of the currents. Around halfway in the swim, we would hit trail island, this was a risky spot. Currents can change very quickly, so our best option was to get out and walk about 500m to the next beach.
Then when we got back in, the rest of Jpod joined us. We had 4km to go. At this point, I didn’t think of anything, it was just muscle memory. Stroke after to stroke after stroke, I focused on swimming my circles around the swimmers. When we got to the last bay, Kpod joined us. We could now see the finish line: Clover point. When I hit the end, part of me actually wanted to keep swimming. Since the water was so cold I couldn’t feel the chaffing on the back of my neck. But all of us got out, as a team.
Stage 7: August 16th
My total: 15.5
Getting in the water was very mushy; There was kelp and seaweed everywhere so all of us just floated on our backs. It was nice to have a little social distancing crowd cheering us out.
In the beginning, it was quite flat. Then about an hour in, we swam around a rock and a current hit. Luckily for us, it was short, and all of us had a nice sprint to power through it! Then we picked up K Pod and had a little swim with them. After we dropped off K pod, we were at Ogden point. Now, we had to swim up along the breakwater. The first couple of minutes it was going quite well. Then, we noticed we were at a corner on the walkway of the breakwater. Soon after, we were going backwards. Susan said it was too strong and that we needed to go on the boat. I asked her if I could try to go through it (since I was swimming circles) . She said I could try.
So I went straight ahead with two kayakers alongside me. I picked up my pace a bit, noticing that the current was getting stronger. Then the current got really strong. My dad was yelling at me to kick. I was able to swim through the rough patch, well at least I thought. Ahead of me, there were whirlpools, so I sprinted to the boat. Turns out the current was 2 Knots (which is 3.7km/hr). Therefore, at my approximate pace of 4km/hr it would have taken me a long time!
We had a short boat ride through the current, and then we jumped in again. The water was a lot calmer here. We headed for a lighthouse. Along the way, we noticed a seal or two following us. Later, we arrived at the lighthouse! This was the last Km. Now K pod had entered the water, we could finish as a team. We had a good crowd and the media cheered us on at the finish. The swim was finished! I waved my Covid-relief flag to celebrate.
My official total overall: 116km
This was an amazing swim! I am so grateful I got to see all of our wonderful swimmers grow and overcome their challenges. I am truly inspired by everyone. I couldn’t think of a better way to make use of my time in the pandemic. Thank you to everyone who supported us!