“SINK OR SWIM” is a video series posted on my YouTube channel to showcase the lead up to my 2021 reattempt of the full Okanagan Lake swim, which will take place starting on August 3rd. Click the links to watch the videos, or scroll down to learn more about the swim project.
The record I am trying to break is a Guinness World Record official title. Only one person has completed the feat to date. It consists of a wetsuit swim, 106km, from the left arm of Lake Okanagan by the city of Vernon, to the complete other side of the lake, finishing in a city called Penticton. The current record is set at 40 hours 57 minutes and 11 seconds by a man named Adam Ellenstein who completed the feat in 2016. My goal is to complete it sub 40 hours. I plan to attempt the record the last week of July 2021. I am waiting until closer to the actual date to decide an exact day of departure based off of ideal weather and conditions.
I will have a support team consisting of two motorized boats sponsored by Aqua Marine Valet (that I will never touch or get in), two kayaks (one for me to sight off and one to help shuttle food and drink back and forth from the motor boats to me. I will not be touching or holding onto the kayaks), as well I will have witnesses in the boats that will observe the entirety of the swim. I plan to track the swim with a GPS watch as well as a GPS satellite phone that will be pulled behind me by a pull buoy (which I will never hold onto or use as support, strictly there to house the satellite phone), an around the clock camera and footage proving that I never left the water, as well as detailed notes of split times per each km and the GPS coordinates that I was at that very time.
I will be untouched for the entirety of the swim, I want to stress this. I will have a support crew, but will not be touched or helped by anyone directly. I will be the one in the water and will not leave it until I have swum the length of the lake.
In 2020, I attempted to break this Guinness World Record. The following was a statement I made two days after the failed attempt:
“I find myself a couple days after what was the hardest, but most valuable day of my life to date. I attempted to swim the entirety of Lake Okanagan, 106km total. It is absolutely gut wrenching for me to say that I only made it 52km over 21 hours. I was on pace to beat the record of 41 hours with time to spare, until debilitating chafing left me unable to proceed. It’s frustrating for me because my body was feeling great structurally and my mental was doing even better, it was just an equipment malfunction that cost me the attempt. I don’t like to justify my failures as successes, but I took a lot out of that day. I endured the worst pain of my life as I watched a goal that has encapsulated every inch of real estate in my brain for the better part of 4 months just drift away into the dark, cold night. But a few days later, wounds reopening with every sleep as they stick to my bed sheets, reliving the embarrassing moment of having to call it, I feel excited, and obligated. Excited that I have the opportunity to change my life on any given day with no more time then any one of us is given. I am excited that I will have the opportunity to combat my problems and come back stronger. I am excited to find out what I can convince my mind to do & see how much is left in my tank. I’m obligated to hold myself accountable for goals that I claim I will achieve, and fall short of. So if there’s one thing you can count on, it’s that next year you’ll find me back in that water, because failure doesn’t sit well with me, and comfort breeds complacency. Oh, and thanks to my whole crew, and all the charity donors. More than double my goal is amazing so cheers to you all.”
This record is meaningful to me because as I have gotten older my focus has shifted from external competition to internal competition and seeing how far I can push myself personally. I am blessed to have been gifted a healthy body and athletic abilities and I plan to use them to create good in whatever ways I can. The lake has been something that I have looked at or been in since I moved to Kelowna four years ago, and the tantalizing thought of conquering it using nothing but my physical and mental abilities, with no direct assistance, is very attractive to me. Especially after my failed 2020 attempt, I am more motivated than ever to combat the problems that I faced that long, cold night, and come back stronger and more efficient for my 2021 attempt.
At the end of the attempt, a record may have fallen, or a record may still stand, no finish is ever guaranteed. That being said, I have gone to bed for the past year with the thoughts and feelings of that night replaying in my mind, and I can honestly say that I will do everything in my power to make sure those feelings are not repeated.
I incorporated the charity organization BrainTrust Canada in with my 2020 attempt and ended up raising $13,000CAD for their cause. Click HERE to learn more about BrainTrust Canada and my fund-raising efforts.