Fourteenth Annual 12.8 Km Swim and Relays

Swim Story 2014

This year we had 23 swimmers, 3 teams, one person completing a 7.8 solo swim and two swimmers completing a 3.5 km swim from Coulter Bay. It was the usual early morning and our day began and remained mostly overcast.  The cloud cover is great for the crew and the unseasonably cooler day and night temperatures resulted in 22C/71.5F water temperatures – quite a nice water temperature when we were swimming, cool for the feeding breaks.  The starting air temperature was 15-17C warming to 22-23C.

This year we had very little wind and a current behind us – with two pockets of “still water” in some narrow areas to swim through. The boats were quite respectful and generated few waves and with limited wind, we had mostly flat water.  A great day for a swim!  We did begin the day by waking up a boater at the start of the swim and she was quite unpleasant – not a morning person for sure!

There were several media stories before the swim and two to follow after the swim. Thank you so much to Laura Popplow for capturing some wonderful pictures that I can send to the media.

Of the 23 swimmers participating this year: 12 were solo swimmers; 9 completing 12.8 kms, one completing 7.8 kms and 2 completing 3.5 kms.  One of the 12.8 solo swimmers was accompanied by 3 delightful youth.  We had one lively and fast girls-only 7-person relay team which shared the 12.8 swim. Everyone was finished within 5.5 hours.  A very fast swim this year!

Our fastest 12.8 km solo swimmer was Rebekah Boscariol completing in 3 hours 24 minutes. She completed a Lake Ontario crossing last year and will be swimming in Lake Ontario again this year when the lake temperature warms up.  The fastest 12.8 km relay team was the Collingwood Clippers again this year; a young all-girls 7-person team: Katelyn Walcroft, Hannah Rich, Lauren Fawcett and Sara Hansen, Holly Keir, Sascha Keir and Meghan Howell completing in 3 hours and 32 minutes.

Name Solo/Team Crew Start / Finish Swim Time
Rebekah Boscariol Solo John and Jordan Boscariol 0719-1043 3hr24m
Colleen Shields Solo Paul Blackwell 0640-1040 4hr0m
Shaun Chisholm

Anna Chisholm

Olivia Ness

Mark DeKlerk

Solo / accompanied Allison Chisholm 0736-1146 4hr 10m
Bonnie Moore Solo Karen Gregory 0600-1034 4hr 34m
Debbie Bang Solo Jamie Myles 0615-1111 4hr 56m
Sammi Mutti Solo Blair Hiseler 0634-1152 5hr 18m
Peter Van Velzen Solo Jack Vanderkooy 0638-1206 5hr28m
Brenda Boyter

Siobhhan Boyter

Solo Jay and JP 0619-1314 6hr55m
Katherine Mutti Solo – 7.8km Robbie Mutti 0620-0928 3hr9m
Hannah Wight

Scott McIntosh

Solo – 3.5 km Gary Wight, Brooke and Lisa Holling 1040-1210 1hr30m
Collingwood Clippers:

Katelyn Walcroft

Hannah Rich

Lauren Fawcett

Sara Hansen

Holly Keir

Sascha Keir

Meghan Howell

Relay Team Al Walcroft, Brian Lindsay 0707-1039 3hr32m

It is a thrill for me each year to talk with and welcome new swimmers to the Swim for the Cure; to share my love of open water long distance swimming with others.  Through the years we have shared the swim with people who have completed a Lake Ontario crossing and those who swim a couple of times a week for exercise.  For some, the 12.8 km solo swim is the longest swim they have ever done and the joy on their faces at the end is awe inspiring. This year I watched Peter Van Velzen finish and the expression on his face so aptly captured the reason why I and so many participate in this event.  It is almost impossible to describe to a non swimmer, what it feels like to journey 12.8 kms, with feedings while treading water, and wind and waves.  The distance sounds so doable.  By the midpoint, our bodies are communicating aches and often leg and toe cramps.  By the 9 km point we are asking ourselves “who’s stupid ideas was it to swim this distance?”  By 10 km our stroke rate is often reduced and we are not impressed with the boat waves – we know we will finish though – it’s only 2.8 km, an easy training swim.  A highlight for me each year, besides finishing the swim, is watching the faces when people finish the distance and especially the faces of those finishing for the first time.  They have set a goal and achieve it … the dream has become a reality.  So a huge congratulation to all of our first time swimmers and to the returning swimmers – some personal best times achieve this year!

Many of the swimmers participate because someone with breast cancer has touched their lives.  Treatment for breast cancer is not for the faint hearted.  It is all consuming and there are no days off from the regime.  I swim for several women who have experiences with breast cancer.  They amaze and inspire me with their courage and positive outlook and have changed me for the better. We swim with a message of hope for those affected by breast cancer … nothing is impossible!

This swim will be remembered for several things this year – for the current at our backs, the cooler water that was just about perfect for long distance swimming and a little cold if your feeding breaks were too long.  It was a very fast swim and several people significantly improved their times over last year – a great thrill.  Perhaps the most important reason the swim will be remembered is because of the infectious excitement of our new swimmers and the shared joy of their finishes.

On behalf of all the swimmers I would like to acknowledge our paddlers and the crew that make the swim possible each year.  A very sincere and heartfelt thank you to our paddlers.  You lead us along the shortest course, you indicate when it is time for a break and hand it to us, you listen, cajole, smile, report on other swimmers, how far we have come, encourage us and occasionally lie about how far we have to go.  You read our mood and tiredness and made it possible for us to finish this year.  Our gratitude is immense.

A special thank you to the crew that made the swim so easy this year.  Bob Snider of the River Emporium has donated ice for the swim each year – keeping our homemade wraps, cookies and water cold as the swimmers all arrive at different times.  Your support of the swim is so appreciated each year!  All receipts were handled via the Swim for the Cure swimmer’s on-line donation pages and by the Barrie Canadian Cancer Society again this year.  We are very thankful for this assistance at the swim and help with promoting the swim to the media. Sher McNulty joined us this year as the greeter for the finishing swimmers and crew at the Big Chute tent; welcoming people to enjoy the wraps and homemade cookies.  Thank you Sher for your generous gift of your time.

It is always an early morning for Don and Laura Popplow, Kay Soares and Steve Bang, picking up swimmers, crew and canoes/kayaks at Severn Falls and getting them to Swift Rapids for the start. Laura has captured some amazing pictures again this year and helped me make wraps for everyone on Friday.  Don has been helping pick up swimmers from the very first year – thank you so much Don!  Kay your kind and gentle approach touched many this year and I have been asked to thank you very much by several of the swimmers and crew. Cathy Myles greeted all the swimmers, collected waivers, donations and recorded the start and finish times for all of us.  She manages with a quiet poise which is so appreciated.

Each year Jamie Myles, my brother travels a great distance to paddle beside me.  I know that he will take me the shortest route, time my feeding breaks exactly, tell me about the other swimmers, speak to people on the shore about what we are doing and unfailingly encourage me to the finish.  The connection between our paddler(s) and the swimmer is a gift – I know that the others swimmers know exactly what I am talking about!

And where would we be without Steve Bang; the undisputed admiral of the event.  This year he spent quite a bit of time looking for Barrie Trojan – brothers?? All kidding aside, Steve’s management of the details allow me to swim – I am very thankful.

Together we have raised over $26,000 for the 14th Annual Swim for the Cure, bringing our total to over $208,000 for women, men and children affected by breast cancer. And we welcomed and swam with 7 new first time swimmers … 135 swimmers have participated in this swim over the 14 years.  Incredible!

Some lessons learned again this year … signage at Swift Rapids needed to let boaters know that swimmers will be arriving at 0545 to start their swim and contact numbers for swimmers in case they are late.  Next year will be our 15th Anniversary swim, ideas about how to make it special were buzzing today … I hope you will join us for the 15th Swim for the Cure.

Special Note for interested relay swimmers: If you would like to be part of a relay team for 2015 – email me. I have had a couple of people express interest in being on a relay team.

If you are reading this story and have not yet swum with us, please consider swimming next year for our 15th anniversary swim.  Come as a solo swimmer, 12.8 kms / 8 miles or 7.8 kms / 4.9 miles completing at Big Chute or as part of a relay team completing at Big Chute.  We will need many helpers in 2015 to:

  1. Register and start the swimmers at Swift Rapids; recording the start times;
  2. Pick up swimmers at Severn Falls in the morning;
  3. Accompany the swimmers as a “runner boat”;
  4. Record the finish time at Big Chute;
  5. Drive crew back to Severn Falls to pick up their car;

Please consider either swimming with us or helping in 2015.  I can be reached by email at or look for our new website at

Could you swim or crew next year … join us for our 15th anniversary swim!