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Sunday, October 23, 2016

Robert Cossette Lived Heroically

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

Robert Cossette and Christine Cossette of Canada are the only father-daughter duo who has been inducted in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

Interestingly, Christine-the-daughter (1982) was inducted before Robert-the-father (2004).

In 1984, the 22-year-old Christine delighted her fellow Québécois when she became the first person to complete a 64 km (39.7-mile) two-way crossing of lac St-Jean in Canada. After completing the first leg in 9 hours 29 minutes, she picked up speed and negative-split as she returned on a second leg of 8 hours 59 minutes. Her 18 hours 27 minute swim was celebrated like few other swims in lac St-Jean and no one was prouder than her father.

Christine's DNA comes from excellent stock.

Despite being crippled by polio, the barrel-chested Robert competed in the 32 km (19.8-mile) Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean eight times between 1955 and 1965, finishing fifth in 1959 (13 hours 52 seconds), fourth in 1960 (14 hours 44 minutes), and seventh in 1961 (14 hours 37 minutes).

He also completed a crossing of the English Channel in 12 hours 5 minutes in 1964 and raced in numerous races:

* 51 km (32-mile) Traversée du Lac Ontario (Marathon de Brading), the Ste-Anne de Beaupré
* 70 km (44-mile) Montréal swim
* 35 km (22-mile) Atlantic City Around-the-Island Swim
* 16 km Trois-Rivières Swim
* Marathon de l’Expo de Toronto
* Lac Simon Swim
* Détroit de Juan de Fuca
* La Gilman Chibougamau Swim

He was the first person to swim 37 km (23 miles) from Chicoutimi to Bagotville along the Saguenay River in Quebec, Canada that resulted in the annual la Descente ou remontée du Saguenay event.

He also served as the president of the Marathon du Saguenay from 1973 to 1988 and trained several swimmers for both the Traversée internationale du lac St-Jean and the 37 km (23-mile) la Descente du Saguenay.

He continued to swim as he continued on in the years. In the mid-1990's, Cossette competed in masters swimming competitions in Quebec and set a number of freestyle records in the 65-69 age-group: 200m (3:21.26 in 1995), 400m (6:46.60 in 1995), 800m (15:32.24 in 1996), and 1500m (29:17.34 in 1996).

He will be long remembered fondly and with great respect among his fellow Québécois and marathon swimming community.

Copyright © 2016 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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