|For immediate release|
July 7, 2010
Okanagan swimmers draw attention to the environment
Kelowna –On July 3rd five swimmers entered Georgia Strait, or the northern arm of the newly named Salish Sea, near Sechelt and emerged less than 10 hours later at Pipers Beach in Nanaimo. The swimmers crossed this 30 km stretch of water, roughly the same distance as the English Channel crossing, in order to draw attention to increased environmental pressure being put on the Strait of Georgia.
In waters comparable in chill and complexity to the English Channel (16-17°C), Rod Craig from North Vancouver and James Monk of Tswassen swam the entire distance without wetsuits. Monk swam the punishing distance in 9 hours and 35 minutes and Craig in a time of 9:50. A four-member relay team supported the two swimmers. The relay team included Okanagan Masters Swimmers Mike Stamhuis of Coldstream and Brent Hobbs of Kelowna. Craig, who qualified last summer to swim the English Channel, also used this swim as his dress rehearsal for the English Channel in late July.
“The purpose of the swim was to draw attention to the fragile nature of the Salish Sea,” says Brent Hobbs. Having conquered the English Channel in 2008, Hobbs is now mentor to Craig and was coordinator of the Salish Sea Swim. “This region is home to the magnificent Pacific Salmon and many other marine creatures, and we have to become more aware of the need to protect this amazing body of water.”
“We greatly appreciate the attention these swimmers are bringing to the Strait of Georgia, one of Canada’s most at risk natural environments,” says Christianne Wilhelmson of the Georgia Strait Alliance. “We all need to become better stewards of the Strait and we hope this will bring attention to that goal.”
The dangers of this swim are considerable. The tidal conditions were in the swimmers’ favour, but the water was cold. The swimmers had boats accompanying them with first aid, protection in the event of mild to medium hypothermia.
According to the History of Open Water Marathon Swimming (Johnson, 2006), there have been seven successful non-wet suit swims (English Channel rules) across the Strait of Georgia. The record was set in 1967 by Mike Powley in a time of 9:23. He swam from Neck Point just north of Departure Bay to Sechelt. James Monk and Rod Craig now hold the second and third fastest times in the record books. Considering the adverse conditions, this is an incredible accomplishment!”
Not quite as cold or far as the Salish Sea swim, is crossing Okanagan Lake on July 17, when hundreds of swimmers will be participating in Kelowna’s Across the Lake Swim. This will be followed by a 1.5km and 5km Open Water Swim at Tugboat Beach as part of the Pushor Mitchell Kelowna Apple Triathlon taking place from August 20-22. Visit www.appletriathlon.com for more information.