London man, Dan Nichols, has been training for nearly a year for a treacherous 32-kilometre swim.
On July 27, Nichols will be swimming 32 kilometres from Honey Harbour into Georgian Bay and back to raise funds for cancer research.
Nichols says he decided to swim in Honey Harbour because he and his wife spend summers in the area. “It’s kind of our home away from home,” he said.
This is not the first time Nichols has taken on a daunting swim like this. In fact, in 2007, he embarked on the first Crossing for Cancer fundraiser, swimming 52 kilometres from the United Stated into Canada across Lake Erie. Nichols raised $35,000 for the Cancer Society during the first swim.
Since then, he has been running ultra-marathons and has run various races including some as far as 80 kilometres.
“I decided it was about time to get back in the water and do another swim,” he said. “And while I was deciding on what I was going to do, a close friend of ours, Anna Panta, she’s 32, was diagnosed with a very aggressive form of cancer.”
Nichols says this is what sparked the idea to do a Crossing for Cancer II.
Throughout Panta’s treatment and his own training, Nichols says they have become important supports for one another.
“She’s going through treatment now and we talk a lot regularly about how she’s feeling, and how I’m feeling and just give each other support as we are prepping and she’s going through treatment.”
Nichols says he expects the swim will take him between 12 and 14 hours to complete. “If it’s really good conditions, I could probably do it in 11 hours, but that’s perfect conditions which never happens. There’s always wind, there’s always currents,” he said.
Nichols says boat traffic is also a considerable concern. “We are going to start the swim at 4 a.m. in the morning, so we can avoid the boats. Honey Harbour is a pretty busy boating area so I’m going to try to get as many kilometres as I can and get out of the Honey Harbour area when it gets a little busier,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be less windy then too.”
However, Nichols has been training extensively for these types of conditions. He says he began training back in August. “I keep a very detailed log,” he said, noting that he has been swimming anywhere from 20 to 30 kilometres a week in the pool.
Nichols says anytime he is feeling discouraged or tired after a grueling swim session, he remembers what his friend Panta is enduring and it helps to put things into perspective. Ultimately, he says, the swim is about supporting a close friend.
“We’ve all lost someone right, and I think that is the difficult thing about cancer — it’s not choosy about who it attacks next, so I am glad I can do something, even if it’s more emotional support for her than it is financial — to know there’s someone in her corner while she’s going through chemo and radiation right now. It definitely gives me motivation,” he said.
“When things are tough, or when it’s 9 a.m. and I’m just getting in the water in the pool for a couple-hour swim, or the water is really cold, I can always think about what she’s undergoing and it makes things seem not so difficult — the things I’ve done or am going to endure,” he said.
So far, Nichols has raised just under $3,000 for Crossing for Cancer II.
Those interested in donating to the Crossing for Cancer II cause can do so on the GoFundMe page.
Nichols is set to embark on the lengthy swim on July 27.