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Monday, September 17, 2018

Never Too Old, Facing Challenges With Pat Gallant-Charette

Courtesy of WOWSA, The Olympic Club, San Francisco, California.

When famed American swimming coach Doc Counsilman became the oldest man to swim across the English Channel in 1979 at the age of 58, his swim made headlines across America and help bring marathon swimming to the attention of the Baby Boomer generation.

His swim was subject of a documentary, Doc: The Oldest Man in the Sea in 1980. He received the O'Clee Jubilee Cup for his effort from the Channel Swimming Association and was inducted as an Honor Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in 1981.

His swim seemed to have set off a race among older swimmers to continue pushing themselves beyond perceived limits held by others.

Since Dr. Counsilman completed his English Channel crossing, every major channel in the world has seen ever older and older people set records:

Cook Strait:
* Tom Hecker (USA) 60 years in 10 hours 36 minutes from north to south in 2012
* Toshio Ogawa (Japan) 60 years in 11 hours 51 minutes from south to north in 2015
* Dr. Marilyn Korzekwa (Canada) 58 years in 11 hours 34 minutes from south to north in 2016

English Channel:
* Dr. Otto Thaning (South Africa) 73 years in 12 hours 52 minutes from England to France in 2014
* Pat Gallant-Charette (USA) 66 years 135 days in 17 hours 55 minutes from England to France in 2017

Tsugaru Channel:
* Toshio Tominaga (Japan) 73 years 6 months in 9 hours 58 minutes from Honshu to Hokkaido in 2016
* Pat Gallant-Charette (USA) 61 years 224 days in 19 hours 36 minutes from Honshu to Hokkaido in 2012

Molokai Channel:
* Mike Spalding (USA) 60 years in 15 hours 15 minutes from Molokai to Oahu in 2007
* Pat Gallant-Charette (USA) 66 years 107 days in 23 hours 54 minutes from Molokai to Oahu in 2016

North Channel:
* Graeme Lowe (Jersey) 50 years in 12 hours 27 minutes from Northern Ireland to Scotland in 2015
* Fergal Somerville (Ireland) 50 years in 12 hours 21 minutes from Northern Ireland to Scotland in 2013
* Pat Gallant-Charette (USA) 65 years 204 days in 14 hours 22 minutes from Northern Ireland to Scotland in 2016

Strait of Gibraltar:
* Dr. Euler Konrad Paul Herbet (Germany) 74 years in 4 hours 9 minutes from Spain to Morocco in 2009
* Carol Sing (USA) 64 years in 5 hours 27 minutes from Spain to Morocco in 2005

Catalina Channel:
* Jim McConica (USA) 64 years in 10 hours 48 minutes from Catalina to the mainland in 2015
* Carol Schumacher Hayden (USA) 66 years 58 days in 15 hours 2 minutes from Catalina to the mainland in 2016

Santa Barbara Channel
* Emilio Casanueva (Chile) 68 years in 7 hours 45 minutes in 2008
* Carol Schumacher Hayden (USA) 64 years in 9 hours 51 minutes in 2014

In addition to her record-setting swims above, Pat Gallant-Charette has also set the following records during her career:

* Lake Ontario crossing in 24 hours 28 minutes in 2017 at 66 years 209 days
* Completion of the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming at 67 years 148 days
* 45.8 km circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island in New York (20 Bridges) in 2018 in 10 hours 53 minutes at 67 years 148 days
* 34.2 km Lake Tahoe crossing at 1,897 meters (6,225 feet) in in 2018 in 20 hours 32 minutes at 67 years 186 days
* 37 km Loch Ness crossing in Scotland from north to south in 13 hours 45 minutes in 2018 at 67 years 198 days

Gallant-Charette also completed a 12-mile crossing of Lake Windermere in 7 hours 38 minutes in 2018 at the age of 67 years.

The retired nurse from Westbrook, Maine explained, "Each swim had a unique set of challenges: speed in Manhattan, high altitude and cold air temperatures in Lake Tahoe, cold water in Loch Ness, and only 3 days rest after Loch Ness in Windermere."

On November 10th at The Olympic Club, Gallant-Charette will explain her mindset, her preparations, her planning, training and escort teams that she has to continue to raise the bar in the open water at the WOWSA Talks & WOWSA Awards.

"It is great to see a sport where you can continue to set records in your 60's and 70's and are considered to be one of the best in your given athletic discipline. Pat is one such individual - of many," explains Steven Munatones. "But the road to greatness is never easy and the world’s waterways have always put the hard-working grandmother to the test.

She always rises to the challenge. At the WOWSA Talks, she will explain her journey.

What always impresses me in face of the tremendous physiological stress and marine conditions that she faces and the long hours she endures is that her smile is as brilliant at the finish as her smile is in the beginning. She is always cheerful and deeply appreciative to her crew and family. And she always faces challenges. She has occasionally failed in her crossings - but she always comes back with a success

​To listen and learn to Gallant-Charette and 24 others speakers from 12 countries at the WOWSA Talks & WOWSA Awards, register here.

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