Welcome to my Three Provinces Swim website. For those of you who don't know me, I swam Lake Ontario the easy way in 1983 and the hard way in 1984. I “came out of retirement" to swim the English Channel in 2011. In 2013, I was the oldest Canadian to swim the Strait of Catalina in California. Last year, I completed the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and became the first Canadian to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming. The 3 swims are the English Channel, the Catalina Strait and the Manhattan race. (See links below for more detail.)
This year I am hoping to become the first person to do the Three Provinces double crossing of the Northumberland Strait. I plan to swim from Nova Scotia north 33 kilometers to Prince Edward Island (PEI) and then south 13 kilometers to New Brunswick. Why a swim in the Canadian Maritimes? I was looking for a cold water ocean swim and I decided it was time to be the first to swim a Canadian route. This swim is a warm up to another goal, to swim the Cook Strait between the north and south islands in New Zealand next February, one of the toughest swims in the world.
The Northumberland Strait is the site of the Confederation Bridge, 13 kilometers long, linking New Brunswick to PEI. The biggest challenge to swimming is the tide, which floods through the strait in a southeasterly direction more strongly than it ebbs northwesterly. The tides vary from 2h 47 min to 8h 36 minutes. I am expecting a maximum tide speed of 1.2 knots. The tide is at its lowest for the month during July 23-28. It will be quite the challenge to pick a start time for this 24 hour swim. The other challenge is the jelly fish, both lion’s mane and moon jellies. I am reassured that the jelly fish are not bad in July. They also tell me there are no sharks in the strait. The water temperature should be between 62 and 68 degrees F (16-20 degrees C).
There have been three double crossings of the Northumberland Strait between New Brunswick and PEI: Jen Alexander July 2007, Kristen Roe July 2008, and Jeremy Davidson August 2014. Jeremy was only accompanied by one kayaker. In light of the fact that there is no governing body for the Northumberland Strait, the level of substantiation and safety of the two dozen single crossings varies greatly. I am planning on following all the rules of the Marathon Swimming Federation and the World Open Water Swimming Association. I am ecstatic to report that Jen Alexander will be my official observer.
I am pleased to be able to use this opportunity to raise money for the Good Shepherd Centres in Hamilton. They run a network of shelters and services for troubled youth, abused women and children, the dying, the mentally and physically challenged, the hungry and the homeless. They strive to support people through crisis and help them re-establish healthy and productive lives. I am personally very grateful to a great many staff at the Good Shepherd who have helped so many of my patients. Please support my swim by donating to the Good Shepherd Centres. Thank you.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Home safe and sound

After the swim, we toured and hiked the Bay of Fundy Hopewell Rocks and National Park. We got there at low tide and walked on the ocean floor and looked up 14 metres at how high the water gets on the flowerpot rocks.
Then we drove the Cabot trail on Cape Breton. We went for a whale watching Zodiac ride and we saw lots of pilot whales jumping, some seals bobbing up to look at us, two bald eagles in their perches on the cliffs and a black bear strolling along on the ridge. The view of Cape Breton from the water was more stunning than any vista from the car.
I am panning on enjoying swimming for the summer, then back to training for the Cook Strait.
To those of you who supported my 3 provinces swim through donations, thank you!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Radio interview

For those of you in Hamilton, I will be on CHML radio 900 at 2:35 Hamilton time today.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Marilyn's story

I still have sea legs (the world swaying back and forth) as I write this.
This swim became difficult about 1/2 hour after we left Aggermore Point, Nova Scotia at 7:22 pm. We left the relatively warmer shallow water at 19 deg C and hit water that was about 17- 18 degrees. This would not normally be a big problem but there was a north wind blowing that was plummeting the air temperature. 2 hours later, the wind switched to south, as predicted and the swells began. The tide also switched to running out of the shallow Baie Verte. These 2 forces pushed warmer water onto my route to New Brunswick, up to about 18 degrees. The rest of the swim across Baie Verte was relatively pleasant except for the mobs of jellyfish. It seems, whenever the water warmed up, they congregated. I got 22 stings on my face and 3 or 4 dozen on each extremity. Fortunately they stopped hurting after 10-15 minutes.
As we approached "Indian Point", New Brunswick (according to the nautical chart but without a name on Google), the waves suddenly whipped up to over a metre coming in chaotic directions ( I think this is when the tracker got soaked and malfunctioned). It took me 1 1/2 hours to get through this washing machine. Unfortunately, this battle hurt both my shoulders (reactivating old injuries) and got my back muscles aching. To swim into shore in New Brunswick, we had to leave the Classy Glass in the deep water. Darcy and I entered the relatively calm, warm, jelly fish infested water in the shallows behind the Point. This quarter mile with just Darcy paddling beside me was magical. Quiet and peaceful with no boat motor or bright lights and 2 kinds of bio-luminescence in the water: green sparkly spots; and a white "shadow" light in the path of where my arm had been.
When we re-joined the powerboat, the captain cleverly lined me up for a straight shot across the main Northumberland straight to PEI, going with the waves and tide. As we zipped past Cape Tormentine, the water plummeted to 16-17 degrees, it was about 3 am and the air was 14 degrees. Despite the pain, I had to sprint to stay warm. On a positive note, the cold water partially anesthetized the joint and muscle pain. My feedings were coming up quite a bit so we had to change from Carbo Pro to Boost and feed me more often to give me the calories to sprint and heat the engine.
The run across the straight was a piece of exceptional navigation, juggling the winds (over 10 knots - predicted to be 8 knots), waves (which were building to over a metre), and tides (which were sweeping me up the straight). Tony understands these waters and how these forces move a boat across the straight. Very few captains really grasp this concept, steer the boat in anticipation of these forces and are flexible enough to play it by ear.
Despite the fact the waves were pushing me, they still bobbed me up and down, forcing me to use those very sore rib cage muscles.
As the wave height grew, I realized that, with my very sore body, there was no way I would be able to fight the increasing wind force generated by several black clouds closing in on us. I was also thinking that I had already done an excellent preparatory swim for the Cook Strait and I did not want to destroy my shoulders. Surprisingly, my crew did not argue with me to attempt the double crossing. I think they were hypothermic themselves, wearing wool hats, mittens and all the warm and waterproof clothes they had brought. Later, I heard that the return trip to New Brunswick was projected to take 12 hours, for a total of 28 hours, because the wind was increasing in speed.
Then the captain said we had 4 nautical miles left and I was going 1.1 to 1.2 nautical miles an hour and I would be in before the tide changed. I knew I was in the coldest part of the channel (at 16 degrees C) and I was doing OK coping with the cold. That's when I knew I would make it.
The ending was a bit dicey. We had to cut across a bay with 12 inches of water to get from a man made piece of land to a natural piece of land, in accordance with the rules. I had a choice of scraping my feet or my hands. I have band-aids on both feet and my derriere.
I finished at 12:03 pm. Total time 16 h 41 minutes.
After being put in a sleeping bag in Tony's hot cabin and then a hot bath, I am warm but sore.
Of all my swims, this one was surpassed in difficulty only by the English Channel (where I had the worst conditions of the year).
The Northumberland Strait is a great training ground for Canadian English channel swimmers and I would encourage more of them to stay at "home". The publicity, interest and friendliness in all 3 provinces here was outstanding.
A big thank you to my crew: my husband who "cooked" and paddled; Thie Convery who cooked, swam and coached; Paula Jongerden who was the assistant observer and swam with me; Darcy Campbell who did an outstanding job as the main paddler Jen Alexander, the first person to do a double crossing of the Northumberland strait, who I am sure will write outstanding observer reports for the World Open Water Swimming Association and Marathon Swimmers Federation; and the best captain I have ever had, Tony Trenholm.
And don't forget, it is not too late to donate to support a wonderful charity.

Marilyns swim ended at 12:03pm for a total time of 16 hrs 41 mins and distance of 34 km over 3 provinces. She was cold but quickly resolved. Now is fine with the usual sore throat from salt water and sore muscles.
Just 1 mile left, winds at 10 knots. Determination and relief showing, looking forward to finishing.
About 2 nautical miles to PEI. Marilyn is fighting hard and determined to finish. Night was windy, raining and generally nasty. Not what the weather forecast was when we left NS.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Classy Glass is less than 1/4.mile off Indian Point NB and cannot proceed due to shallow depth. Marilyn and kayaker are going in to shore and we will contnue to PEI. Tracker has stopped working. They have just landed at 3:38am. Wind blew up and rainstorm hit about an hour ago. Just miserable.
At 1hour Marilyn had swam 1.57 nm or over 1.6 miles from shore. She is crossing Bay Vert, water is 65F light wind ENE broadside to her. She had her first feed after 45 mins and will keep feeding every 45 min. Sky is overcast with heavy clouds. Her feeds are liquid, easy to swallow and digest. Feeds include Carbo pro and Boost.Tide is moving her sideways as expected, tide will switch around 11pm in opposite direction. Departure time was chosen based on tides.

En route

Left Cape Tormentine on Classy Glass captained by Tony Trenholm. We are heading for starting at Point Aggermore, NS where the swim will begin. Water is frigid 64 or 17C. Going to be a classic struggle with cold water, winds and tide. Next is greasing and the swim will begin.

All ready to go

We are ready for a 7:30 to 8:15pm ADT departure. (That is 6:30 to 7:15pm back home in Hamilton).
Conditions are mostly favourable. It looks beautiful out there right now, as a matter of fact.
Shortly after I start, the wind should switch from north to south and push me all the way to PEI.
Unfortunately, the wind may get stronger on the last leg from PEI to New Brunswick and be in my face at an angle. However, this may neutralize the tide effect to some degree, resulting in a shorter course.
We're looking to land at or near Indian Point (near Cape Tormentine) at 3:30 or 4 a.m. and PEI at around noon. Detailed updates of exact landing locations will be posted on the blog as the crew makes these decisions.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday update

We went for a lovely boat ride yesterday with Tony. We swam for 15 minutes beside his boat. It was fun but very windy.
The weather window for Saturday evening around 8 pm is holding. It could be warmer.
I just got an email that CHML radio in Hamilton wants to interview me at 3:35 Atlantic time, which is 2:35 Hamilton time. I think it will be live.
Other than that, we will be trying to do some sightseeing and trying the Friday fish fry.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Planning on Saturday evening

The weather window for a Saturday evening start seems to be holding. We are praying it continues to get warmer, calmer and sunnier for the whole 24 hours.

I did phone interviews for CBC radio this morning. CBC Halifax radio will be playing this afternoon with Jean LeRush. The CBC PEI morning show will be playing tomorrow early morning.
CBC Halifax TV is coming to film me tomorrow afternoon, probably for Saturday showing.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The tracker link


Here is the link for the tracking device that will be beside me all the way across the Northumberland Strait and back.

Busy meeting with captain and incoming crew

Yesterday we had the $45.50 pleasure of driving across the Confederation Bridge to PEI and back. We got a good view of the Northumberland Strait. We scouted out landing locations at both ends of the bridge. Conveniently both sides have parks with road access.
Then we picked up Jen Alexander, the official observer, in Charlottetown. We did a bit of the touristy thing and saw Province House, the birthplace of confederation.
We met with the pilot, Tony Trenholm and his charming wife. We also saw the boat, which has all the facilities we need. Tony knows all these waters like the back of his hand. His weather sense is not only felt in his bones but he has all the high tech equipment on his boat that anyone would need.
Today, the rest of the crew arrives.
We are looking at a small weather window tomorrow afternoon and a better one on Saturday evening.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Training Swim in the Northumberland Strait

We rented a kayak and took it on its maiden voyage accompanying me for over an hour swim this afternoon. The water was a pleasant 19 deg C. I swam out into the middle of Baie Verte and back. We observed both types of jelly fish, moon jellies and lion's mane. The lion's mane looks just like the seaweed and stung me a few times. However, the sting went away after about 15 minutes, hasn't bothered me since and didn't leave a mark.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

New Brunswick - 1750 km later

I enjoyed a beautiful drive today. Parts of Eastern Quebec were spectacular and New Brunswick was green, beautiful and hilly. The highway road signs warned to be on the lookout for moose, but I think the bigger danger (at least during daylight hours) was slow moving RV's. In the land of hills with a speed limit of 110 km/hr and everyone going at least 120, you had to be ready to pass them as soon as you saw them.
I cheered when I passed an RV from British Columbia. It was then that I really connected with my pride in the vastness and beauty of our country. Every Canadian should do a road trip across the Canada. Where else in the world could you drive 1750 km and only cross 2 1/2 provinces? Or drive all day (800 km) and not see a single police car?
We are staying at a charming motel, the Indian Point Motel in Port Elgin, right on the Northumberland strait. Unfortunately is is very misty today and we couldn't see the other side.  The temperature was 18 deg C today, going up to 24 tomorrow.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

9 hours down, 7 to go

I'm snug in my hotel in Quebec. I went for a long walk to soak up the ambiance of La Belle Province.
It is 18 deg C and foggy here. I had the air conditioning on for most of the drive until the last 2 hours when the temperature plummeted from 28 to 18.
Tomorrow - Atlantic ocean here I come!

Friday, July 17, 2015

I'm all packed

The picture with Marilyn Bell DiLascio was taken at a little get together in Toronto the day after she was a torch bearer for the Pan Am games. Marilyn "the elder" gave me and my team flowers, lots of hugs and good wishes. We were all so honoured and touched. She is such a lovely person.

I've been very busy giving interviews.
I've attached the links below to articles from the Hamilton Spectator, the Halifax Herald and the Charlottetown Guardian.

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...
I actually fit everything in the car.
I'm leaving tomorrow morning.
Next stop, Quebec.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Our new paddler

Last night, Paula and I had fun swimming in Lake Erie with our new paddler, Darcy Campbell. He has experience paddling marathons in Lake Erie and has a background in whitewater and ocean kayaking. He's a nice guy too. He'll be a great addition to our team.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

donation link

Some people are having trouble with the donation link I provided in my email. The link should start with www. If your link has Http:// you should erase this part.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I'm ready

I have achieved my training goals.
Three weeks ago I swam 15 km in Gulliver's Lake in 5 hrs 37 minutes.
Two weeks ago, I swam the 46.6 km distance of the Three Provinces Swim in 4 days.
Last Saturday June 20, I completed a 32.4 km swim in 14 hours 54 minutes. We called it the "dawn to dusk training swim". It was 4 laps of an 8 km route in Muskoka. The water was a little warm for me at 73 deg F.  The choppy waves were really annoying in my face for about half of the route and slowed me down. Nevertheless, I am on course to complete the double crossing of the Northumberland Strait in 22.5 hours. This training swim was a great opportunity for the team to work together and welcome Paula. She swam or paddled most of the swim with me!
WOWSA has sanctioned the swim.
Travel arrangements are almost completed.
I feel ready.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


Many people have asked about my training.
When I trained for the English Channel and Catalina, I followed Marcia Cleveland's training plan that she outlined in her blog http://www.doversolo.com/catalina.htm. She was training at age 44 for Catalina. I think she mentioned that she was an older athlete and didn't train as many yards as she did when she was younger. I figured that worked for me since I also had the mileage under my belt from previous swims. I have converted her yardage estimates into kilometers. In the fall she swam up to 18 km per week, in Jan & Feb she swam up to 23 km/wk, in March/April she swam up to 27 km/week and in May/June, she swam up to 32 km. Catalina was a 32 km swim, so I figured that the goal is to build up to "the distance of the swim per week" by the last couple of weeks before the taper. 
Since the Three Provinces swim is a 47 km swim, and this is my 5th year in a row of doing big swims, and I am 58 with several shoulder injuries caused by falls, I decided I needed to work up to 47 k per week but I didn't want to push the mileage until I could get outside in May. So April was 27 k per week, May averaged 32 k per week. June will be 36 k per week. There will be one week of 40 k and two of 47 k. 
I worked on speed and technique in the pool alone and with my Masters team. Since May 10 I have been swimming outside and focusing on distance. 
I have been doing core strength training with my trainer twice a week this year. I am also working on keeping the muscles around the joints "balanced" and keeping the injuries at bay with my trainer and Active Release Technique chiropractor.
As in previous years, I will do one long "trial swim" of 32 km in a couple of weeks.

My boat is confirmed

I am so excited. I was able to confirm Tony Trenholm as a captain for my 3 Provinces swim. He is a lobster fisherman in New Brunswick with a 43 foot fishing boat. It has all the electronics and facilities we will need.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

My first sponsor - Gulliver's Lake Park

I have a sponsor! Gulliver's Lake in Flamborough is supporting my training. They gave me a free pass to use the Lake to train. Thank you Gulliver's! It is a beautiful stone quarry that warms up way before any of the other larger lakes and is perfect for early season open water training. Two Olympic teams, and lots of triathletes and scuba divers use the lake for their training and lessons.
I did a 15 km training swim there last week with my pacer and kayaker, Paula Jongerden, who swam 44km across Lake Erie in 2002.