Swimmers takings part in ‘The Big Swim’ were disappointed by a change in plans due to weather, but organizers say the event was still a success.
Swimmers, kayakers and volunteers collected $148,000 in donations to send approximately 150 children to Brigadoon Village — a year-round facility that offers camps to children living with chronic illness, chronic conditions or specials needs.
Swimmer Bobby Lou Reardon from Yarmouth took part in the swim for the third time.
“I’m doing it because I love to swim and we’re helping all kinds of kids get to go to camp,” Reardon said.
Participants were originally going to be swimming 14 kilometres across the Northumberland Strait from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island, but bad weather and water swells caused a change of plans.
Organizers say they aired on the side of caution and had swimmers stick to the New Brunswick coast instead of swimming alongside the confederation bridge. The weather also caused a two-hour delay — it was the first time the route had to be changed in the six-year history of the event.
Swimmer Darren Forest participated for the first time and says he’s disappointed he won’t be able to cross “swim from New Brunswick to PEI” off his bucket list.
“It’s disappointing, but better safe than sorry,” Forest said.
The event was organized by Give to Live. Co-founder and board member Todd McDonald says the weather was disappointing, but told swimmers that life doesn’t always go in a straight-line. He says everyone needs to live life to the fullest.
“If you can imagine being a chronically ill child with Crohn’s or colitis, or the loss of a parents or cancer or something like that — that life doesn’t go in a straight line and so what I tried to explain to the swimmers was ‘just change your expectations,” McDonald said.
Toronto’s Bob Hayes was the first swimmer to land at Murray Corner — completing the distance in under two hours.
The biggest swim yet
Organizers the event set the record for the largest recorded group to complete the big swim at once.
62 swimmers and 70 kayakers completed approximately 12 kilometres. Kayakers paddled alongside swimmers to ensure their safety.
Organizers say the event has raised a combined $700,000 to support Cystic Fibrosis Canada and Brigadoon Village over the past six years.
Donations are being accepted until September 15, 2016.