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Monday, May 18, 2015

Strait Swimming Between New Brunswick, Prince Edward

Courtesy of Jen Alexander [shown on left] of Canada.

There are all kinds of islands to circumnavigate and channels to cross around the world. Many are outside major metropolitan areas and some extend along a vehicular bridge. The Northumberland Strait offers one such crossing.

The Northumberland Strait separates Prince Edward Island from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on the east coast of Canada.

The 12.7 km (7.9-mile) course from Cape Jourimain, New Brunswick to Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island is shortest crossing across the Strait.

With the help of marathon swimming enthusiast and Type 1 diabetes channel swimmer Jennifer Alexander, publicly available media reports and information from other swimmers and crew, the following list was compiled by Solo Swims of Ontario about this crossing. It was pioneered by Evelyn Henry in 1951.

As Alexander writes in Solo Swims of Ontario, "The Northumberland Strait coastline has changed considerably since Evelyn Henry first swam the strait. Prior to 1966, Cape Jourimain was Jourimain Island, and was not connected to the mainland. Construction of the Confederation Bridge began in 1993, and concluded in 1997 [shown above]. As the main piers of the bridge are 250 metres apart, the bridge can give swimmers a sense of their progress (or lack of) as they swim across the strait.

The starting points and courses taken by the swimmers have varied greatly over the years. The straight-line distance across the Strait is a minimum of 8 miles (13 km) from Cape Jourimain at the eastern side of the Confederation Bridge on New Brunswick to Borden at the eastern side of the Bridge on Prince Edward Island. The bridge's slight bend increases its length over water to 12.9 km

There are other courses, up to 32 km, across the Strait.

Successful crossings occur between mid-July and early September when water temperatures range between 18°C-20°C. These warmer temperatures bring 5 venomous jellyfish to the area including Lion's Mane jellyfish and moon jellyfish with a rare Portuguese man-o-war occasionally getting blown in the area.

Successful crossings (non-wetsuit) include the following:

1. Evelyn Henry (age 23) between 8:26 and 9:53 on 15 July 1951
2. Dorothy Peters (23) 10:25 on 6 September 1955
3. Rejean Lacoursiere (27) 7:10 on 29 July 1963
4. John Sarret (39) 10:45 on 29 July 1963
5. Herman Willemse 5+ hours on 1 August 1964
6. George Park on 1 August 1964
7. Ralph Brooks (14) 11:23 on 1 August 1964
8. Frank Gaudet on 19 August 1985
9. Mike Gaudet (33) 10:05 on 2 August 1986 (32 km course)
10. Terry Edison 7:04 on 3 August 1986
11. Barb MacNeill (28) 7:50
12. Barb MacNeill (29) 11:23 on 22 July 1987
13. Andrea Brown in 1989 (note: daughter of Evelyn Henry)
14. Kristin Roe (25) 7:45 on 28 July 2005
15. Jen Alexander (31) 11:04 on 15 July 2006
16. Lara Gibson (34) 5:15 on 25 July 2006
17. Jen Alexander (32) 19:17 on 25-26 July 2007
18. Kristin Roe (27) 15 hours on 26 July 2008
19. Jen Alexander (33)
20. Jill Leon (52) 4:33 on 11 August 2008
21. Kristin Roe (29) 6 hours on 28 June 2010
22. Steuart Martens (30) 3:29 on 4 August 2013
23. Suzanne Nicholson (22) 5:33:30 on 18 August 2013
24. Jeremy Davidson (32) 5:43 on 2 August 2014
25. Megan Surrette (37) 6:43:12 on 17 August 2014
26. Jeremy Davidson (32) 16:15 (8:04 + 8:11) on 23 August 2014
27. Michelle Austin 5:00:53 on 13 September 2014

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Davidson, The Northumberland Man.

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