Eighth Annual 13-km Swim

Storm passes
(Jema relaxes)

The day began at 4:15 a.m. as Jema (our Cattle Dog) sensed the impending storm. She doesn’t like this kind of weather and started pawing at the bed trying to get some comfort. Thunder and lightning began shortly after with winds and strong rain. Thank goodness for Jim Shaw and Don Popplow having their computers connected to the weather sites. They were able to tell us that all would clear around 6 a.m. with some more rain around 10 a.m. and then clearing.

Twenty-two swimmers participated in the swim this year, with three relay teams, two teams of two, and six solo swimmers. In all there were 10 new swimmers and 12 repeat swimmers.

The first ones started around 6:20 a.m. and everyone was finished by 2:00 p.m. Although the crews had to endure some rain mid-morning, the swimmers enjoyed great conditions. The threat of rain kept many boaters off the river till later in the morning, reducing the waves for the swimmers. It still wasn’t easy: as a result of the very wet summer, the water level was up on the river, increasing the current slightly, and, at the narrower sections of the river, creating strong back currents to swim through.

Training pays

Our fastest swimmer was Eric Bang, who completed his swim in 4 hours 3 minutes accompanied by Peter Derus, Paul Blackwell and his nephew MacKenzie; an amazing swim and Eric’s fastest swim ever. Once done, Eric and Peter paddled the canoe back to the cottage – an additional 12 km or so of paddling. The running and swim training really paid off this year!

First-time swimmer and Severn River cottager Kelly Smith emerged from the water 4 hours and 43 minutes after entering. Kelly said that she had been watching the yellow Swim for the Cure bathing caps pass by for a couple of years. She was anticipating an important birthday and decided that she would like to swim this year. Kelly had a very strong first swim accompanied by her husband Sheldon Laidman with lots of support from parents Lawrie and Lorraine Smith.

Supporter to swimmer

Ruth Gray-Beauchamp has been a supporter of Debbie Bang and the Swim for the Cure for many years and I think has considered participating for a while. Ruth has a powerful breaststroke, which helped her complete her first swim in 6 hours and 24 minutes. She also had the most supporters waiting for her at the end, a reunion almost, of family and friends. Ruth was accompanied by husband Mike Beauchamp and sister Jan Gray who took her job as nutrition coach very seriously. Many thanks to her brother Fred Gray taking pictures of the swimmers and activities. I (Debbie Bang) had the pleasure of swimming along side of Ruth for her last three kilometres after I finished my swim. It was wonderful to swim beside her, and I am blaming the breaststroke for the lactic acid in my arms and the sore lower back once we got out.

Christine Mitchell had a fabulous swim this year shaving almost an hour off her last year’s time. She was accompanied by her husband Dave Wareing, Josh Wareing and Steven Sasseville, completing in 5 hours and 21 minutes. Christine has a very strong backstroke that she uses very effectively for much of the swim, with Dave in the canoe providing the direction. She also chats with her crew while swimming, making the distance look effortless.

Nine Katz add splash

The team of Howard Katz and Barry Bender had a great swim completing in 5 hours 39 minutes – 30 minutes faster than last year. The Katz clan are huge supporters of the swim with nine people participating this year. Sadly, we lost Nancy Katz a couple of years ago to breast cancer. She was a wonderful woman, mom and partner and supporter of the Swim for the Cure.

Marci Katz and her team of Dave Heidebrecht, Tommie Jardine and Kristian Butler completed in 6 hours 2 minutes, a great time for this team as well. We missed Marci’s laughter and exuberance last year as she was in Australia – great to have you back.

The third Katz team was made up of Norma Jack, Adam Bender and Becky Katz. They completed the swim with a paddleboat and trailing balloons, which at times had trouble keeping up with the swimmer. Great swim with Norma finishing for the team – 6 hours and 13 minutes.

The team of Mark Bang and Adam Popplow were accompanied by Courtney Scott and Alyssa McDonald. Mark completed the first part of the swim with front crawl and Adam closed with breaststroke. Neither trains for the swim – other than having physical summer jobs – a great performance, finishing in 5 hours 49 minutes.

This year Mark Aniol (our little brother for 27 years from the Big Brother Association) convinced some good friends to participate in the swim. Businessmen, a firefighter, health inspector and teacher – they arrived at the cottage the day before on their motorcycles. Jay was the only one who had “really done any training!” They got up early, donned their tight yellow bathing caps, pondered whether to bring along the yellow “water wings” that good (but absent) friend Neil had sent, and hit the water at 7:19. Jay Tyrell started and finished for the group, Mark Aniol and Marek Azman and James Bloomfield contributed a few kilometres each to the cause. Ivo Azman only intended to do 100 meters, but with some persuasion (read: not allowed out of the water) he completed 1 kilometre. Jay finished the swim mostly on his back with sunglasses on and chatting to the team with Mark Aniol paddling beside him in the kayak and James driving the tin boat. They were all in good humour and wore their bathing caps in very fashionable ways. This team had a great first swim completing in 6 hours and 28 minutes and really think they would like to swim again next year – this time with Neil as well.

Marilyn Korzekwa accompanied by Roman Korzekwa and Debbie Bang accompanied by brother Jamie Myles began and finished within minutes of each other and Debbie had the wonderful pleasure of swimming side-by-side with Marilyn for most of the swim. It was a great experience to look over at Marilyn and see her also enjoying listening to music (via waterproof MP3s) and feel both encouraged and challenged to keep up the pace. Marilyn completed in 4 hours 31 minutes and Debbie a personal best in 4 hours 34 minutes, finishing with an almost healed and splinted broken right thumb.

Making it possible

The swim is not possible without our crews and the many people working behind the scenes. Steve Bang was in charge this year, making sure everyone was where they needed to be and food, tents, people were at the finish. This year swimmer Ruth Gray-Beauchamp also helped Debbie make the wraps for the crew and swimmers.

Don Popplow accompanied by Laura Popplow was the official photographer again this year capturing the memories of the day through pictures. He also assists with getting the swimmers and crew home again. This year Fred Gray also was on hand to take pictures as he watched Ruth complete her swim – so we were doubly blessed with pictures.

Jim Shaw was awake at the same time as Debbie and had a report on the storm that broke early on swim morning. He also was the taxi for the first swimmers and our start and finish helpers – Caroline Burns and Brenda German.

Caroline and Brenda are the swimmers’ source of encouragement and calm at the start and the faces we look for at the end to get our final time. This year, Caroline’s daughter Pamela Burns made and donated beautiful pink bracelets as a fundraiser for the swim. I am really enjoying my bracelets. A very sincere thank you to Pamela and Caroline and Brenda for their gift of time.

This year we got some great help at the finish from Harrison Myles and Cathy Myles. Cathy made me a wonderful pink bracelet to honour the swim and recognize the cause – breast cancer. Thank you Cathy for this lovely gift. Former swimmer Debbie King also contributed the pink breast cancer bracelets as a fundraiser (her husband is our webmaster).

Debbie Bang’s mom and dad, Mary Lyn and Herb Myles, arrange for the receipt books and add up and submit our donations each year. Mary Lyn designed a great grocery bag with the pink ribbon and our key message: courage, endurance, bravery and hope – they are still available for $8.00 if you would like to support the cause and get a great bag in the bargain. She also had blue baseball-like hats made with our logo. Thanks to mom and dad for taking care of the donations and the great fundraisers.

Overall it was a great year for the swimmers, reflected in faster times. Hopefully the almost $9,500 raised will help make a difference in the lives of those living with breast cancer. We swim because we can, to extend our own lives and most importantly to make a difference for the better in someone’s life. Our message of hope is heart felt.

There are many ways to complete the Swim for the Cure next year – as a volunteer crewmember, or a solo swimmer, either 8 miles / 12.8 kms or 4.9 miles / 7.8 kms or as part of a relay team.

Think about joining us. . . it is a “doable” challenge and a great shared experience. To date we have raised about $84,000 and 83 swimmers have participated. How about you being number 84?