Release for press;
“VANCOUVER – On July 3rd five swimmers will enter Georgia Strait, or the northern arm of the newly named Salish Sea, near Sechelt and emerge less than 12 hours later at Pipers Beach in Nanaimo. The swimmers are daring to cross this 35 km stretch of water, roughly the same distance as the English Channel crossing, in order to draw attention to increased pressure being put on the Strait of Georgia.
Following in the “finsteps” of marathon swimmers Fin Donnelly and Marilyn Bell, Rod Craig will swim without wetsuit, and four others will swim in relay. “The purpose of the swim is to draw attention to the fragile nature of the Salish Sea,” says Brent Hobbs, Salish Sea swim coordinator. “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.”
“Crossing the Salish Sea is an opportunity to bring attention to one of the finest bodies of water in the world through a physical demonstration of endurance,” said Fin Donnelly, who successfully crossed this body of water four times in the 1990s. “These swimmers are doing this swim because they love and respect the ocean and its denizens”
“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 swimmers have boats accompanying them with first aid, offering protection in the event of hypothermia. It is expected the solo swimmer will make landfall approximately 10-12 hours after entering the water on the Sechelt side. The relay team hopes to maintain speeds of 2 to 3 ½ km an hour, arriving, if the wind, currents and conditions are favourable, in under 10 hours.
Mr. Craig, who qualified last summer to swim the English Channel by swimming 25 kilometres in six hours in Howe Sound, considers this swim his rehearsal for his English Channel challenge later in July.
One of the escorts is John Dafoe, a well known environmental activist, guide and resident of the South Sunshine Coast. He escorted Donnelly on his 1992 record-setting ‘Save Georgia Strait’ swim crossing in support of Georgia Strait Alliance.”
July 3, 2010
Once again here is the “call” from our very own Brent Hobbs;
“I think John’s note sums up our experience perfectly. It was epoch! Congratulations to James and Rod for battling through Force 3 conditions at the start and the “demons” that occupy the mind from the 6 hour threshold until the finish. It takes a team to make this happen. Claire, Jim, Mike and Bill set the pace and kept Rod and James company. Wendy did a fanstastic job of capturing the essence of the swim for the public (note: the environmental message was conveyed in Check TV’s coverage). Our expert pilots (Richard/Dale, Scott and John) ensured that we achieved our goals safely and efficiently. I was very impressed with their attention to detail. Through South-Easterly winds and Force 3 conditions at the start, Westerly winds in the middle, and South-Easterly winds along Vancouver Island, our pilots worked tirelessly to ensure that we swam in a straight line through thick and thin–remarkable seamanship! Also, a big thank you to all of you who took turns looking after Connor. He had a great time on the sailboat, so much so that he wants to take sailing lessons. Lastly, I want to thank Fin for his support. Fin got the Rivershed Society of BC and the Georgia Strait Alliance to support our swim for an important environmental cause. Fin is working tirelessly in the House of Commons to support endangered wild salmon stocks. Having swum Georgia Strait and other significant “endangered” bodies of water, Fin is also an inspiration for marathon swimming.
I think this is a day that we will remember for the rest of our lives, and we did it for a good cause. You can check out our coverage on Check TV news www.cheknews.ca.
For the record books. According to the History of Open Water Marathon Swimming (Johnson, Tim, 2006), there have been 7 successful non-wet 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. The second fastest swim was performed by Shane Collins of West Vancouver in 1998 in a time of 9:55. James and Rod are now 2nd and 3rd in the record books. Considering the adverse conditions, this is an incredible accomplishment!”