Tenth Anniversary 13-km / 26-km Swim

It was a dark, moonless night when the first “runner boats” (Don Popplow and Steve Bang) braved the eerie silence at 2:30 a.m. to head to Severn Falls and pick up three of the 25.6 km swimmers and their crew. . . This was a special year, the 10th Anniversary swim!

As a result there were two swims occurring the same day. The usual 12.8 km / 8 mile and a 25.6 km / 16 mile swim which began at 4 a.m.

Swim 2010 was the biggest, included the longest distance and raised the most donations ever. We had 30 swimmers, 8 of whom participated in the 25.6 km swim, 2 shared the distance and 1 completed 25.9 kms in Oakville pools; nine 12.8 km solo swimmers; one two-swimmer team completing 7 kms; 1 swimmer completing 7.8 kms and 2 “competing” teams – one 5 man and one 5 woman team completing the 12.8 km swim.

The day was overcast with wind from the North West and the rain held off for us this year. Water temperatures were almost too hot at 26C/79F. The first swimmers in the 12.8 km swim were in the water by 6:38 a.m. and out by 2:20 p.m. The 25.6 km swimmers began at 3:58 a.m. and all had completed by 4:20 p.m. A long day, especially for Don Popplow and Steve Bang as well as Mark Aniol and Corrie Gallant who accompanied some of the extra-distance swimmers to the Swift Rapids starting point.

It was also an amazing day for the swimmers and for breast cancer research. Several personal bests, a tie for the fastest female swimmer, and donations over $35,200 were achieved this year.

We also had a special and unexpected participant this year — a black bear! She (or he) crossed from the island around the 2.5 km location and continued onto the shore. Several of the swimmers were “thrilled” to have a chance to share the water with the bear.

Eric Bang accompanied by Paul Blackwell zipped to Big Chute in 3 hours 53 minutes — another amazing swim and just three minutes slower than last year. Eric then made his way to Port Severn to be available if mom Debbie needed him to encourage her to finish the 25.6 km swim. Eric had been competing and winning 5 km road races this summer. His focus has been on running vs swimming — hard to tell though!

Siobbhan Boyter accompanied by husband Jason and daughter Sadie and aunt-in-law Brenda Boyter accompanied by husband Joe were the first into the water at 6:38 a.m. Unfortunately Siobbhan became quite ill during the swim and had to get out. Brenda continued on shaving 11 minutes off last year’s time and completed in 6 hours and 41 minutes. “I was pleased with my time. I don’t at all consider myself a competitive swimmer – just recreational. I was sad Siobbhan couldn’t finish I thought we could complete the swim together. Maybe next year??”

The “competing” teams were next into the water with much nonsense and a few secret props in the men’s camp. This was the second year for the men’s team and the women’s team was blissfully unaware of the “tricks” the men’s team had tucked away in the boat. A lot was riding on the outcome of the competition – something about “being waited on for the remainder of the weekend” – so it seemed that “all was fair” in this 12.8 km swimming competition.

The men’s team of Mark Aniol, Neil Lounsbury, Jay Tyrrell, Ivo Zielinski and Marrek Zielinski accompanied themselves. The women’s team of Corrie Gallant, Wendy Hogeterp, Jen Lounsbury (who was pregnant), Lisa Wayda and Andrea Harcsa were accompanied for navigation by Courtney Scott (also pregnant), a great asset as she knows the route really well and Dustin Scott – the driver of the women’s boat.

The men finished in 5 hours 54 minutes, shaving 34 minutes off their 2008 swim time. The women’s team completed together, including Courtney in 6 hours and 1 minute. Together, the teams also raised $2,600 in donations. Great celebrating that evening amidst several complaints from members of the men’s team of very sore hips . . . wondering if the use of flippers had anything to do with their sore hips? “Thank you again to Deb and Steve for letting us stay with them and keep them up ’til 3 a.m. with camp fire songs (lol). The Lounsburys had a wonderful time and enjoyed the company and scenery very much.”

New swimmer Jessica Pothier accompanied by her dad Mike was next into the water and she sprinted to Big Chute. An outstanding swim for Jessica tying the women’s fastest time of 3 hours 21 minutes. Great swim Jessica! “Thank you so much! I really enjoyed the swim! Definitely something I would be interested in next year. Steve and Caroline were both very nice and very helpful. Also thank you very much for the plaque it is beautiful. Overall the Swim for the Cure is a very well organized event. I congratulate you for all your dedication.”

Robin Boys, accompanied by Sandra Pritchard had another great year and was part of the very successful Glendon Pool fundraising team, which raised over $7,500 in donations. Robin completed in 4 hours 52 minutes just 13 minutes slower than last year. “First, belated congratulations on your successful swim – water got very choppy out there so must have been a challenge – as well as a very successful event this year.”

Susanne Robinson accompanied by Marnie Luetchford participated for the first time this year. She has successfully crossed Lake Erie and will be challenging Lake Ontario later this summer. Susanne had a great swim completing in 4 hours 26 minutes. “I wanted to thank you so very much in letting me participate in your swim this year. I had a great time and loved the event . . . even the bear.”

Late note: Susanne successfully completed her Lake Ontario swim on August 10/11, in 24 hours and 37 minutes – AMAZING!!

Kristina DiFabio accompanied by Eugene Andrews signed up for the swim a week before and had an excellent first time swim completing in 4 hours exactly. “The Swim for the Cure was the perfect event to make my summer more fulfilling before being back at Lakehead University in the fall. It was a great experience and fun physical challenge. Like all the swimmers in this event I love swimming so much and this was the perfect way for me to do something meaningful. Congratulations on a great swim Saturday!! I can’t believe those of you who swam 26.5 km made it, I was so dead at 13! It was a really great event and I was very happy to be part of it. I hope I can do it again next year. Thanks for all the hard work you put into organizing everything.”

Fernando Camacho accompanied by Tracy Walsh finished in exactly the same time this year as last – 4 hours 10 minutes. How does he do that? Fernando was also part of the very successful Glendon Pool fundraising team.

Next in was our oldest swimmer ever. . . 71 year old Tim Carter. Tim was accompanied by Sean Musselman, the son of Mary Lou O’Reilly, a woman in early recovery from breast cancer and the reason both men were participating. Tim was a member of the very successful Glendon Pool fundraising team that raised $7,500 and he also raised an additional $450 in donations. Prior to the event, Tim was projecting a 4 to 5 hour 7.8 km swim. He surprised himself with a 3 hour 2 minute swim. Great swim Tim!

Norma Jack accompanied by Howard Katz was in next. At the end of her 7.8 km swim last year Norma stated that she was going all the way next year. That is exactly what she did with an outstanding time of 5 hours 10 minutes.

Dave Heidebrect and Amy Katz-McLean accompanied by Tyler Miguel entered at Buck Skin Island and completed their 7 km swim in 3 hours 18 minutes. The Katz family and friends have been wonderful supporters and/or participants in the Swim For The Cure from the first year in honour of Nancy Katz who lost her fight with breast cancer – my sincere thanks to each of them.

The first 25.6 km swimmer to get started was pool swimmer Debbie Shallhorn King. It was seven years ago when Debbie swam on the Severn and completed the 12.8 km distance. Then, during the winter of 2004, she went on disability because of various ailments, including severe arthritis in her knees.

In March, 2009, the women of Maple Grove United Church campaigned to raise money for lap-band stomach surgery that saved her life. Last summer, she was able to get back in the pool after losing some weight. She desperately wanted to be part of the 10th annual swim, but the loss of all knee cartilage meant the river event would be too much to handle. Inspiration came to her from two friends, Robin Wandel, a survivor of breast cancer, and Dianne Younker, who sadly lost her battle with uterine cancer.

Debbie, now 56, received permission to do this year’s longer distance on consecutive days in her local pool during lengths time. By the start of her swim, she had lost 124 pounds, more than half of her initial goal. She began Monday, July 12 and finished, as planned, on the day of the river swim, doing actually 25.9k in 20:03, using a knee-friendly version of the breaststroke and sometimes the crawl. On the 24th, even though she wasn’t there physically, she was there emotionally with the river group. She didn’t have to dodge boats or avoid zebra mussels, but she needed patience with slower swimmers and those who swam the wrong way in her lane in a very busy pool. She also swallowed a lot of water because of the turbulence and was often sick after her swim. But it was all worth it, and she says she’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Shaun Chisholm accompanied by brother Josh for the first 12.8 km swim and Ron Loibl for the second half, had an outstanding extra-distance swim. He led the way with green-yellow glow sticks shining brightly in the night water and was the fastest 25.6 km swimmer completing in 8 hours 41 minutes. “I really enjoyed the journey this year.” Shaun was also part of the Glendon Pool fundraising team. “Deb and Steve did a fantastic job. I’ve helped organize similar events on a smaller scale and I know how much work is involved. It was an honour to take part.” An amazing swim Shaun!

Colleen Shields and Al Cox accompanied each other and shared the distance. Al has paddled for Colleen in her past Swim for the Cure swims so decided to complete the first half of the swim, beginning at 4:00 a.m. in the dark. Al had a great first time swim completing in 3 hours 48 minutes and then paddled for Colleen who completed the Big Chute to Port Severn 12.8 km swim. The second half of the long swim was expected to be much rougher with more wave and wind activity. This proved to be true, especially in Glouchester Pool. Colleen had an outstanding swim pacing part of the distance with Shaun and completed in 4 hours 2 minutes.

Marilyn Korzekwa accompanied by son Roman was our oldest 25.8 km swimmer and had a great swim completing in 10 hours 31 minutes. This is the furthest Marilyn has swum since she swam Lake Ontario in 1984. This was half the distance, at twice the age, having twice as much fun, and more money raised than ever before. Marilyn was inspired by a quote from marathon swimmer, Melissa Brannagan, “Your biggest challenge isn’t someone else. It’s the ache in your lungs and the burning in your legs, and the little voice inside you that yells ‘can’t!’, but you don’t listen, you just push harder and then … you hear the voice whisper ‘can’ … and you realize the person you thought you were is no match for the one you really are!” Thank you Deb and Steve for all your work and support!”

Eden Cantkier accompanied by her sister Alanna Cantkier-Bellamy and Greg Peterson started out at 4:00 a.m. for the first 12.8 km leg. For the second leg of the 25.6 km swim Eden was accompanied by Brandy Tanenbaum and Robert Dafoe. She managed both the nighttime start to the swim and the rough water in Glouchester Pool to complete in 12 hours, 10 minutes and contributed an amazing $5,500 in donations.

“I was expecting the hardest part to be the muscle fatigue but the darkness caught me by surprise. Without any natural light of the moon or stars, cap covering most of your ears and goggles on, it is so easy to be disoriented when the light at the end of the boat is slightly out of your sight line. There’s a sense of being consumed by the darkness somewhere between the air and the water and feeling like you’ve lost yourself inside of that space somehow. I was desperately grateful every time I found Alanna and Greg to be right where I’d left them, beside me, guiding me through the darkness.

“Through the second half, disoriented as none of us knew the stretch of water well enough to navigate and no map, we relied heavily on Steve’s visits and the kindness of the cottagers and boaters to point us in the right direction. The running joke is that I may have swam a few extra km along the way as we zig zagged through the second leg.

“16 miles of water, 12 hours and 10 minutes of travel time, 11.5 hours of swim time and more than $5,500 raised! A special thank you to my crew: Alanna and Greg (who started out at 4 am in the water with me and led me through the darkness) and Brandy and Bob (who encouraged me through the roughest waters I swam through. And to my biggest fans Phil, Sam, Mom, Lynda and Rose who cheered me on every stroke of the way! Thank you so much for everyone’s generosity and messages of support! I couldn’t have done ANY of it without EACH and EVERY one of YOU!!!”

Jay Serdula accompanied by Alicia Walton and Gord Fuller predicted the time it would take him to complete the swim and was right. Alicia and Jay managed to have a mishap at the beginning of the swim in the dark and first time paddler Alicia ended up in the water. Amazingly, she climbed back in and accompanied Jay for the remainder of his 12 hour 4 minutes swim. “My swim time was 12:04. (This includes the 18 minutes that I was out of the water, plus swimming while holding my flipflops for about 2 minutes while the kayak was getting to me. I did NOT stop my stopwatch at Big Chute.)”

Alicia stated, “It was quite the experience kayaking at night with no view of the shore line, but such a great time.” Gord caught up to both after taking down the tents and packing up. He described the first 12.8 km swim as peaceful, full of experiences with nature almost serene. On the other hand, Gord described the second half of the 25.6 km as being like downtown Toronto in comparison. As one of the swimmers, I would agree with him!

My own goal this year was to complete the 25.6 km swim that I had been unable to complete in 2001. I was pulled from the water about 4-5 kms from Port Severn. Though disappointed, I knew it was the right decision and this has been unfinished “business” for me since that day. This year I did finish with a lot of help from my friends. Marilyn, Colleen and Steve were apart of several training swims this summer and last summer to prepare both mentally and physically. Eric accompanied me on most early morning training swims in the Oakville public pools before work/school.

I am very thankful to each of them, my co-swimmers Marilyn, Colleen, Shaun, Jay, Al, Deb and Eden for “going the distance with me” at the unimaginable time of 4 in the morning and Don Popplow for getting up with us to get the swimmers to the starting point with Steve. Mark Aniol and Corrie Gallant got up to drive the 25.6 km swimmers from our cottage to Swift Rapids and their warm and loving hugs got me started. I received wonderful advice from Tatum Haslem who completed Lake Couchiching last year, Marilyn on my stroke, Shaun on fueling for the swim and some of the clients at work.

My mantras during the swim were: “I’m here to do a job – get it done”; “I can do it!” and at tough points, “Suck it up buttercup!” My greatest assets during the swim were messages from mom, Jim Shaw and Steve Bang that they “knew I could do it!” and Jamie Myles my brother and guide for the swim again this year. We have it down pat; Jamie and I. I know that he will get me to the end, let me know when it is break time and respects the challenge that I am undertaking.

I had two secret weapons this year — Cathy Myles, sister-in-law accompanied Jamie and I for the second 12.8 km section and her job, which she did beautifully, was to ensure that I believed that I could finish. You were untiring in this Cathy and I thank you so much. Eric Bang was my other secret weapon — his beautiful card of encouragement and belief in me, greeted and had me crying at 2:30 a.m. the morning of the swim. Eric was ready to get back in the water to pace me in to finish as I had for him the first year he finished the swim when he was just 13 years old. I didn’t need Eric to finish – Jamie, Cathy, Steve, Brock and my head got me to the end in 10 hours 10 minutes, enabling me also to achieve a personal best for the first 12.8 km swim in 4 hours 29 minutes and finishing second after Shaun.

My dad, Herb Myles was waiting at the end with a breast cancer quilt that my mom Mary Lyn Myles had made for me – a loving hug and words of pride; my anchor for unsteady legs as I emerged from the water. I was thrilled to be honoured by Susan Smart from the Canadian Cancer Society at the end of my 25.6 km swim with an award on the 10th Anniversary of the Swim for the Cure for my commitment and dedication and the significant impact we have had in the fight against breast cancer. I also had a friend from work, Linda Carey waiting at the end with a smile, words of congratulations and a warm hug. Thank you Linda for waiting for me to finish.

We had some new volunteers who made a great difference to the success of the 2010 Swim for the Cure. Nick Dimma and Julian Baron-Clarke were part of the runner boat team, picking up swimmers and crew and getting them to the starting point and checking in on the swimmers and crew along the way. Great job guys! Several volunteers from the Canadian Cancer Society and some cottagers were a great help with the receipts. Suzanne Hughes, wife of Tim Carter was a huge help with the press release this year and assisted us to get out our message about the swim and the benefits of being active as a strategy to prevent breast cancer. Mark Bang was a volunteer vs a swimmer this year and helped with driving people from Big Chute to Severn Falls to pick up cars and from Big Chute to Port Severn to do the same and to watch the 25.6 km swimmers arrive – he was there with a warm and wonderful hug for me at the end. Andrea Doherty was very helpful at Big Chute with directing swimmers and crew, receipts and ensuring that all had some homemade wraps and cookies when finished. Andrea also had a warm hug for me at the end.

A very sincere thank you to Don and Laura Popplow for our pictures of swim 2010 and Don for all his assistance during the swim, especially the early morning pick up of the 25.6 km swimmers – we are so appreciative. Caroline Burns not only travels from Hamilton each year to manage the chaotic start and finish for the swimmers, and helps with the receipts for the donations. . . she also brings the most amazing homemade cookies! Caroline: your patience, organizational skills, support and delicious cookies each year are wonderful gifts.

The Scott family are also wonderful supporters of the swim; this year Al driving the pontoon boat and supporting swimmers along the way, Lisa distributing our commemorative plaques and the homemade sour-dough banana chocolate chip bread I made for the volunteers, Courtney on navigation duties for the women’s relay team and Dustin for driving their boat.

The success of this swim, especially this year is not possible without all the behind the scenes work. Much is completed by my parents, Mary Lyn and Herb Myles, dubbed Command Co-Queen of Big Chute with Caroline Burns and Dad Command King of Port Severn; and Steve Bang, who is my greatest supporter and the “Big Boss”. It is not possible for the swimmers to achieve their accomplishments without their crew and the swim volunteers. My nephew Brock accompanies Steve in the runner boat giving encouragement to the crew and swimmers after helping with set up at Big Chute. As always, Brock, thanks for the smiling face, words of encouragement while I am swimming and the big hug at the end.

Steve ensures that the kayaks/canoes are waiting at Swift Rapids for the swimmers when they arrive. He was instrumental in getting the 25.6 km swimmers to Port Severn checking in with us regularly and giving directions. His organizational skills and attention to detail are so appreciated before and especially during the swim.

We had several special donations this year. Bob Snider of the River Emporium has donated ice for the swim each year – keeping our homemade wraps and cookies cold as the swimmers all arrive at different times. This year the Trent-Severn Waterway allowed the kayaks and powerboat to go through Big Chute for free to support the 25.6 km swimmers. A very sincere thank-you to Jack Alexander and each of the team members at the Swift Rapid, Big Chute and Port Severn locks for letting boaters know that we were on the water.

In recognition of our 10th anniversary, Steve Bang and Jason Shaw, Shaw Enterprise Inc. (, created a beautiful picture of our route including the section between Big Chute and Port Severn. Jim Shaw of PLAK-IT (, plaqued each of the pictures creating a wonderful keepsake for the swimmers and volunteers of our 10th anniversary swim. Thank you Jason for creating and organizing this special commemorative for us.

This year my mom, Mary Lyn Myles created and donated two beautiful fleece breast cancer quilts – one to be drawn from all people who made a $20.00 donation and one for the swimmer who achieved the greatest number of donations. Our winner of the draw is Peter Johnston from Moncton, New Brunswick and the top fundraiser with $6,080 raised was Debbie Shallhorn King.

Swim 2010 included 11 new swimmers bringing our total to 108 individual swimmer participants over the 10 years. We have achieved donations of over $35,200 this year and over $132,000 for breast cancer research over the 10 years as a result of the incredible work completed by each of the swimmers, crew and volunteers – we are an amazing team!!

If you are reading this story and have not yet swum with us, please consider joining us in our next 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.

In addition, we need many helpers to:

    1. pick up swimmers at Severn Falls in the morning
    2. accompany the swimmers as a “runner boat”
    3. staff the food table
    4. help complete receipts
    5. drive crew back to Severn Falls to pick up their car

Please consider either swimming with us or helping in 2011. I can be reached by email at

Until next year. . . thank you to all our crew and swimmers for the greatest year yet!