Openwater swimming continues to be a great way for me to connect with the people. This year’s upcoming double-crossing attempt of Juan de Fuca is no exception. I recently had the privilege of meeting with Mrs Noelle Arnott’s grade three class at Sangster Elementary School and sharing my story – and through that meeting I gained the most incredible research team an openwater swimmer could ask for. The students wholeheartedly agreed to help me with my swim by researching the Juan de Fuca Strait and some of what I might encounter throughout the swim.
The other day I returned to the classroom and this incredible group of students had prepared a fabulous presentation on their research findings. The class compiled a series of questions based on my presentation and then worked as group to classify the questions into 4 subjects (obstacles, laws & rules, health & safety and animals). From there they each selected a few questions which they would research. Some were so curious about the questions that they researched it even if another student had it on their list. “How does Susan avoid getting caught in a bubble net” was one of the more popular queries!
Some of the key themes I learned about my upcoming swim were:
- If I don’t bug the creatures of the sea they won’t hurt me
- Make sure I am in touch with the US Government, the Coast Guard and the ships so they know what I am doing
- Use my team to keep me safe
- Avoid fishing traps and other things such as sea weed – if I get caught in sea weed take calm breaths, roll over onto my back and slowly untangle myself
- Have my team send me food on a flotation device attached to a rope so I don’t touch the boat
- Many sea creatures swim on shore during the evening as they are looking for food – avoid the shoreline at this time
- Humpbacks are not migrating through Juan de Fuca in August so I do not need to worry about bubble nets
There were so many fantastic tips, many of which I had not thought of in the past. I was thrilled with all of their findings and witness their keen sense of research. I think what stood out the most was their overarching message of safety. I was reminded by this compassionate group that “long swims take training and mental strength. Make sure you train and take care of your health”. And I have promised them that I will.
As a parting gift from my research team I received these 4 great posters below which highlight all of their hard work. The posters are now hanging on my wall at home as a source of inspiration. I also received individual cards from each of the students with their own personal drawings and well wishes. They are so beautiful, creative and unique. I love them!
I am so grateful to have been able to spend time with this fabulous group. Huge hugs to Joanna Preston for connecting me with the school, Mrs Noelle Arnott for embracing the activity and the grade 3 class for the wealth of knowledge and sources of inspiration.