At the age of 61, Wayne Strach is no stranger to distance swimming. In fact, he’s spent most of his life in the water.
But what’s coming at the beginning of August is a totally different challenge. Strach is preparing to swim more than 130-kilometres of Okanagan Lake in B.C. in hopes of setting a new world record for the longest unassisted open water swim.
“As athletes, we always want to reach a little further, higher, faster,” Strach told Global News. “This is just pushing the limits.”
Strach is training with the Edmonton Master’s Swim Club and spending time on his own at local recreation centres. He’s done open water swims in lakes across Alberta and B.C., but the biggest training happened one year ago, when he defied the odds and swam the English Channel, becoming the oldest Canadian to complete the marathon swim.
Strach said the feat was a part of his bucket list.
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“I said to myself, ‘Wayne, you aren’t getting any younger, if you want to reach your dreams you better start training pretty soon here,'” the swimmer said with a smile, adding he will use that accomplishment as a confidence-booster for his swim across Okanagan Lake.
“It had it’s own challenges. All marathon swimming has it’s own challenges,” Strach said.
Unlike the English Channel, his trip through Lake Okanagan won’t have him dodging jelly fish and cruise ships. Instead, he expects mother nature to be his biggest hurdle, especially the sun. Stach expects to be swimming for more than 50 hours straight, with barely time to eat, let alone reapply his mixture of grease and sunscreen that he wears in the water.
There’s also strict rules in place if he wants to set a record through the Marathon Swimmer’s Federation.
Stach can’t have contact with a boat, he cant wear a wetsuit or get help from a current or draft from his support boat.
There will also have to be official recorders taking pictures and video, while they track his journey.
“The true test is going to be endurance,” the swimmer said. “How long can I stay awake and how many cycles can my arms go through the water?”
The current Marathon Swimmer’s Federation record is held by Chloe McCardel. The 30-year-old Australian swam 124.4 kilometres in the Bahamas.
Strach hits the water on August 8th with a support team including friends and volunteers from the area.
Editors Note: This story was updated on August 10, 2016 to correct the organization that certifies the record and the record set by Chloe McCardel.