Although there is no possibility that the Crazy Canucks English Channel relay team will break any records, lots of other Canadians have. Maybe we are the polar bears of the swimming world.
I ran by this cool monument to Marilyn Bell in Victoria on the Dallas Road footpath east of Finlayson Point not long ago and it gave me goosebumps, probably not a common occurrence among other who take the time to read it.
It states: This cairn commemorates the feat of Miss Marilyn Bell who landed in this bay 23rd August, 1956 to become the first woman and first Canadian to swim Juan de Fuca Strait from Port Angeles, U.S.A. to Victoria, Canada.
Bell, the first person to swim across Lake Ontario in 1954, became the youngest person to swim the English Channel in 1955.
Cindy Nicholas has spent lots and lots of time in the English Channel. With her 19 crossings and five two-way crossings she earned the title of Queen of the Channel, until the record was broken by Alison Streeter with over 43 crossings. Cindy was the first woman to complete a two-way crossing and for awhile held a two-way world record time of 18:51. She still holds the record for most two-way crossings at five.
Vicki Keith has the record for the first crossing of the Channel doing the butterfly for her feat In July of 1989.
Much more recently, Wayne Strach of Leduc at 60 became the oldest Canadian to swim the Channel with his 17-hour and 15 minute trip from England to France in 2015.
Strach told the CBC News that the tidal currents were at the top of his list of challenges. Strach toughed it out saying he didn’t go there “to swim partway to France”.
The Crazy Canucks’ oldest relay team member, Janet, will be 63 on our crossing. The English Channel Swimming Association Limited doesn’t track this type of age-related record for relay teams so we won’t know how we stack up that way if we finish. Our team also has two others that will be 60 this year.
All team members have faced fear of some sort in their swimming career’s leading up to our new challenge. Janet’s came in her first triathlon in a mass start. “All of a sudden all I could see were white heels coming up through the green water…for some reason it reminded me of the bodies in the movie Titanic and I couldn’t breathe.” Despite her panic attack she finished the race, albeit embarrassed and humiliated at being one of the last swimmers to exit the lake.
That race is so much water under the bridge. Janet is training hard with a Penticton Master’s group and has completed our two local races in style, bagging a first in her age group at the 7-kilometre Rattlesnake Island Swim. “I’ve never had another panic attack although there has been some deep breathing when I’ve started a new challenge.
“Now I’m on the final leg of training for the Channel and I’m looking forward to it with trepidation and a bit of excitement.”