The Race Rocks Challenge is an unprecedented six-kilometre open water swim by select Pearson College UWC students from Race Rocks Ecological Reserve to the main College docks on Pedder Bay planned for Saturday, May 25, 2019.
We are grateful to Aqua Lung Canada for their exceptionally kind donation of six Aqua Sphere wetsuits for this swim and to our friends at HTO Surf Shop for helping make it happen!
Meet the Race Rocks swimmers!
Haley Touchburn – Year 44
I can’t remember when I learned how to swim. I think I was about 2 or 3 when my mom would bring me to a community pool while my brother was at school. Swimming has always been an integral part of my life. Years of summers at the beach, swim lessons, competitive swimming and ultimately triathlon all started at St Pats Community Pool and Parlee Beach in Shédiac New Brunswick (basically my backyard!). Although I don’t currently compete in swimming or triathlon, I swim to stay healthy, set and reach goals, relieve stress (it’s a kind of meditation for me), and to stay in shape to lifeguard and to continue to do triathlons after leaving Pearson.
The challenge, the excitement, the beauty of the area (Pedder Bay and Race Rocks are breathtaking!), the possibility for team spirit and camaraderie are what attract me to open water swimming.
I want to leave my mark at Pearson and I think the Race Rocks challenge is a way to do this. I want to bring a team together, raise money for this place that has meant and given me so much over two years, and leave with a bang!
Pearson College is an intensely busy and fascinating place. I’ve learned so much about myself as a learner, a friend, and as an athlete. I’ve found the shift from living in a family of four to a house of forty to be challenging, but the growth has been more than significant in my view of other people and the world than anything else I have ever experienced. I have learned so much about the rest of the world through my daily life and my perspective on long term life goals has fundamentally shifted.
Mikella Schuettler – Year 45
I learned to swim at around 4 in Bangkok, Thailand. I wasn’t very good and hated getting my head wet, so my coach used to call me ‘watermelon head’. I started swimming more competitively when I moved to Singapore. I want to do the Race Rocks swim because it connects me back to an important part of my life before I moved to Pearson College. My favourite stroke is backstroke, but my favourite race was 400m IM. I am attracted to open water swimming because of the freezing water; I find it very exciting and new. Race Rocks is truly the most beautiful place at Pearson. It is a gorgeous sanctuary that is iconic in the Pearson community, and it’s a challenge.
Being at Pearson, I have met and gotten to know so many new people, which is why I am so grateful for this opportunity. I think that this swim has already brought me closer to new people, and to new experiences, which is the whole point of our time at Pearson.
Andrew Littlejohn – Year 45
I learned to swim when I was 4, in my hometown of Bay
Roberts, Newfoundland. I swim now to keep in shape and
because I love to swim. It’s great for the mind and calmness.
I’ve never swum in the ocean until now, so I’m interested in
a new experience, plus it’s a great opportunity to help the
college. I’m interested in the challenge of Race Rocks
because I’ve never pushed myself to do something like this
so I’m really excited to see if I’m up for the challenge. I
adore Pearson College and how incomparable it is to be in
such a beautiful environment with people from over 80
countries. I’ve gotten to learn scuba diving and how to
become more disciplined as a person. At Pearson, I feel as if
I’m able to do anything, which makes this six km swim so
enticing. I probably wouldn’t have even considered the challenge a year ago.
Dvir Maimon – Year 44
Nickname: The Angel Shark! I learned to swim when I was 6 years old in my hometown as part of a swimming summer camp. I swim now to take myself mentally and physically to the edge! Moreover; The silence of the swim is addictive and the moment the head is in the water and you are aiming for a goal nothing can stop you and this feeling cannot be obtained in any other sport. My Favourite Stroke is rowing. Unlike the pool where your space is limited, in open water I feel free. As in life like this in swimming to grow you must jump into the open water and that’s how I see it. My best 2 years in my life so far!! Difficult to explain in words this amazing experience but I just will say that I am glad that I had the opportunity to come to this place and enjoy every bit of it! I see the life from a philosophical point of view; therefore, in my point of view and like Arkady Chernow said: “Do not accept the challenge before trying it”
Mara Bohm – Year 45
I’ve been in love with the water for as long as I can remember, but I probably started swimming lessons when I was around 3 at the Pan Am Pool in Winnipeg, Manitoba. I also grew up swimming at a lake in the summer in Ontario and was a competitive swimmer for most of my life. My favourite stroke is double arm backstroke – lol.
Swimming is an incredible way for me to de-stress and forget about the world for a little bit while keeping myself healthy, mentally and physically!
I’ve always enjoyed long distance swimming to sprinting, and cold open water swimming is something that will really challenge me and let me discover and challenge my
limits. Even if I do not complete the full distance, I really look forward to the feeling of knowing I gave the swim 100% effort.
Race Rocks is a haven – the opportunity to experience everything that goes on in this little island is one of the most amazing things about Pearson College, and has really made me realize how incredible the West Coast of Canada is. For me, Race Rocks is so connected to my overall experience as a Pearson College student, despite how far the island is from the College. Maybe this sounds cheesy, but the idea of being able to connect them together through something that has been a huge part of my life for so long (swimming) in a way that I know will really challenge me but also be so rewarding if I complete it (similar to my experience as a student at Pearson College) would be an incredible way to end of my first year at the College.
I love the ocean! I hope to study Marine Biology in Australia and one day become an ocean activist (like Sylvia Earle!).
Pearson is such a unique environment that has allowed me to explore the kind of person I want to be in a safe and supportive community, discover (or rediscover) my passions, and meet amazing people who make me challenge my beliefs every day. It is very challenging, but also extremely rewarding.
Tess Casher – Year 44
My parents put me in swim classes when I was 4, but I didn’t make it much past floating and probably didn’t figure out how to actually swim laps until 8 or 9 when I learned to swim at my elementary school’s pool, at the American School of Doha, Qatar.
I swim now because it simply feels natural. There’s an organic, innate and instinctive sensation that’s somehow very calming. (And sometimes I like to pretend I’m training for the “highly probable” occasion when I’m stranded on a deserted island and I’ll need to swim to safety).
I’m specifically attracted to open water swimming, because my mom’s side of the family has a ‘right of passage’ ceremony. Her family has owned a cabin on Basswood Lake in southern Ontario for nearly 60 years. There’s a small island about a one and half kilometers away from our docks. At some point, all of her siblings then all of my cousins made the epic journey. It’s a supported endeavour (our parents would only let each of us do it if we convince someone to paddle alongside us in a canoe). After completing the pilgrimage our grandfather ceremoniously gave us $10 each (which, may I add, was not adjusted for inflation since when my mom completed the challenge in the 1974 and me in 2012). But there was a sense of accomplishment, a challenge, a thrill in long distance swimming and I no longer need $10 take a dip in the open water.
I’m looking forward to the race rocks challenge because within the College’s 44-year history, this is a challenge that has yet to be taken. It’s exciting being a part of the something new.
Sarah Lewis – Year 45
My desire to swim stems from my mother’s deep involvement in my hometown swimming community, this exposed me to swimming from a very young age. To be honest, I can’t even remember when I learned how to swim. My parents introduced me to the water when I was a mere toddler, probably around the age of 2 or 3. As I have grown and my swimming abilities strengthened, the water became a soothing space for me to think.
Whenever I feel like I am in a negative headspace, swimming provides me a healthy outlet to reflect on the emotions I am dealing with. The thrilling, impulsive drive burst I unlock as I jump in the water, remind me of whom I am. I am a person that is never phased by a challenge. Open water swimming is that challenge that has been thrown at me, and I am so excited to tackle it.
Race Rocks is an ecological site that is in close proximity to Pearson College. I have travelled there for field trips, and the beauty of the land continues to impress me. By doing this swim, I will have the chance to further explore my connection with nature. Also, this swim is extremely difficult, and it will push me outside my comfort zone. This will prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to. Also, this journey would not be possible without the support of my school Pearson College.
Pearson College is a school that embodies many different cultures, ethnicities and nationalities. It is a school that pushes its students to be creative, curious, and passionate. Pearson is a school that has played an active role in nurturing all my passion so they can be further pursued, like this swimming exhibition.