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Algonquin College duo to take on BIG SWIM

Sarah Hyatt

SARAH HYATT/DAILY OBSERVER 
Left to right: Ian Pineau, the outdoor adventure naturalist co-ordinator for Algonquin College and Sarah Hall, the college's environmental technician program co-ordinator dive in the Ottawa River for a little practice before their BIG SWIM on Aug. 17. The pair are taking on the Northumberland Strait which links Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Hall will be swimming and Pineau kayaking as Hall's guide to help raise funds for special kids camps.

SARAH HYATT/DAILY OBSERVER Left to right: Ian Pineau, the outdoor adventure naturalist co-ordinator for Algonquin College and Sarah Hall, the college's environmental technician program co-ordinator dive in the Ottawa River for a little practice before their BIG SWIM on Aug. 17. The pair are taking on the Northumberland Strait which links Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Hall will be swimming and Pineau kayaking as Hall's guide to help raise funds for special kids camps.

A courageous team of two from Algonquin College in Pembroke will take on the Northumberland Strait this Aug. 17.

Sarah Hall, Algonquin College’s environmental technician program co-ordinator and Ian Pineau, the outdoor adventure naturalist co-ordinator are diving in to take part in the BIG SWIM.

The pair caught up with local media along the shores of the Ottawa River Friday morning to talk about the BIG SWIM event.

It’s a fundraising event for Brigadoon Village, a not-for-profit children’s recreational facility in Annapolis Valley, N.S. The swimming event helps raise funds for special and unique summer camps to help children suffering from chronic illnesses or to help kids with special needs.

“So there’s a camp for children with epilepsy, for the visually-impaired or for kids who’ve lost a loved one,” Hall explained.

For Hall and Pineau, that’s why participation in the event is important. There are camps to help kids who’ve battled cancer also.

Pineau once had a student who went through a similar camp-like-program and it made a huge difference for that student, he said. That student went on to do amazing things in part because of their experience, he said.

Both Pineau and Hall have roots in the Atlantic region too, although now settled in the area. So this is something close to their heart, the duo agreed.

About 50 swimmers and 50 kayakers are set to take on the Northumberland Strait.

Hall, a former competitive swimmer has been training all summer for the 14 to 17 kilometre swim across the strait, which links the provinces of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. The swim will take place near the Confederation Bridge.

Technically, it’s a 14-kilometre stretch, straight from one end of the strait to the other, but currents and tidal movement do play a factor and can increase the distance for competitors, Hall explained. Teams will start in New Brunswick and finish in Prince Edward Island.

Pineau will kayak beside Hall during the swim as her guide. The pair may also have to battle seasickness and heavy swells during their five-to-six hour journey across the strait.

And it’s seasickness that concerns Hall the most, she said. More than sharks or jelly fish even. Sharks and jelly fish aren’t expected to be issues, she said. But seasickness and trying not to swallow any salt water, that may prove difficult, she admitted.

Hall’s plan is to keep a steady, constant pace. She’s been putting in as much time as possible in the water before the big event and competing in other challenges as well.

On Saturday, Hall competes at the World Masters Championships in Montreal, Que.

The World Masters Championships however, are less of an endurance type competition and more about speed, Hall said. “It has been difficult trying to train going back and forth between the two challenges,” Hall said.

This will be the first time the Algonquin College program co-ordinator has participated in the BIG SWIM or swam such a lengthy distance.

But Hall’s always loved swimming. Even as a young kid she loved the sport. “The great thing about swimming is you can do it all your life,” she said. “At any age you can enjoy this sport.”

Even at the World Masters Championships, there’s a 90 and over age category, she added.

For Hall and Pineau they’re also hopeful in taking on the BIG SWIM challenge they can inspire others in the community to get out and get active. “We’d like to think we can inspire others to challenge themselves,” Hall said.

Challenging oneself is important, the pair agreed. And it doesn’t mean one has to take on a 17-kilometre swim across the Northumberland Strait either, Pineau joked.

Encouraging others to get out and active is something both co-ordinators as their chosen professions would indicate are passionate about.

The BIG SWIM, in its fourth year will have swimmers from the Atlantic, four Ontario teams, three from the United States and one team from Australia.

There won’t be a first, second or third – it’s not about winning, Hall said. Instead, it’s about helping the kids and pushing oneself.

Each swimmer raises a minimum of $1,000 in pledges as part of the fundraising efforts. And every $1,000 raised sends a child to camp for one week.

More information on the BIG SWIM can be found at www.givetolive.ca/bigswim/.

Sarah Hyatt is a Daily Observer multimedia journalist.

 


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