Meet Pat Gallant-Charette, a native of Maine, Westbrook resident, University of Southern Maine graduate, wife, mother, sister, grandmother, and full time nurse. In her spare time, fifty-nine year old Pat is a long-distance swimmer preparing to take on the English Channel in August of 2011. Success was snatched from her grasp in July 2008. After swimming 16 hours in the Channel, with the lights in French homes encouraging her and still feeling strong, Pat had fought impenetrable currents for four hours just 1.7 miles from the finish line when her boat crew elected to end the attempt. While Pat had made it across....and that was a dream come true....the ultimate challenge had eluded her. It is still her long long distance swim goal.
In 2009, prevaling winds prevented Pat from starting her second attempt of the English Channel. Pat returned to Maine determined to return to England for another attempt. She came late to the Gallant-Charette swimming club. Her son Tom was on the Westbrook High School swim team and her youngest brother, Robbie Gallant twice won the 2.4 mile Peaks to Portland swim. Robbie, just 34 years old, was a loving husband, and devoted father to three year old Christopher when he suffered a fatal heart attack twelve years ago. Soon after Robbie's untimely death, Pat's son Tom said, "Ma, I'd like to swim the Peaks to Portland as a tribute to Uncle Robbie." "Tom, that is so sweet. I wish I could do the same," Pat replied. Looking at her encouragingly, Tom said, "You could, if you tried". That sparked fired Pat's resolve to swim Peaks.....a lap at a time.
At the age of forty-six her fitness regime had consisted mainly of walking, but with a regular workout schedule at the local pool, Pat gradually built up her endurance. She met the qualifying requirements for the Peaks to Portland swim the following year. You can only imagine her emotion on finding her young nephew Christopher waiting for her at the end of that swim. Pat continues to enter the Peaks to Portland every year and Christopher, now 15, cheers her on. That success encouraged her to seek other goals, including a double crossing of Maine's Big Sebago Lake (12 miles), the Great Chesapeake Bay swim (4.4 miles) and the Strait of Gibraltar swim (9 miles), where stroke by stroke Pat repeated her mantra, "You could, if you tried".
Pat nutures a belief that she is capable of swimming the English Channel, considered by many to be the greatest test of a long distance swimmer. While nominally 20.7 miles, strong tides and currents in the Channel make the real distance covered by swimmers 30 miles or more. Much of that time they are navigating their way through waves and tides in darkness. Fatigue and hypothermia stalk them (water temp around 60 degrees F.) and jellyfish stings are an added torture. Pat is intent on joining a very select group of athletes.
In 2011, her boat crew will consist of Robbie's son Christopher, nephew Kyle, brother David and sister-in-law Jeannie. Pat's husband Jim and children Sarah and Tom have been incredibly supportive of her passion for swimming , and family and friends are an integral part of her team. Pat will enter the water to make this historic swim in 2011 with great determination. Contact information: email@example.com.
Visit Pat Gallant Charette at her own blog
View photo's of Pat Gallant Charette in her first channel swim
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