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Sackville swimmers taking on Northumberland Strait today

Sackville's Peter Smith, along with father Brenton, gets set to head out across the Northumberland Strait this morning. Smith was one of 49 swimmers taking part in the Big Swim, a fundraising event for Brigadoon Village.
Sackville's Peter Smith, right, along with his father Brenton, gets set to head out across the Northumberland Strait this morning. Smith was one of 49 swimmers taking part in the Big Swim, a fundraising event for Brigadoon Village. - Katie Tower

Family, friends can keep track of swimmers thanks to GPS updates

CAPE JOURIMAIN, N.B. – Before most of us had even had our first cup of coffee this morning, Sackville’s Peter Smith was dipping his toes in the water of the Northumberland Strait, ready to take on one of the biggest challenges of his life.

Smith is one of about 50 swimmers this morning participating in the Big Swim, a 14-kilometre trek across the Strait from New Brunswick to PEI. It’s an event that raises funds for Brigadoon Village in Nova Scotia, a camp for children with a chronic illness or a chronic condition, and Smith said he’s excited to be part of it all.

“I love to swim,” he said from the starting point at Cape Jourimain at about 7 a.m. “But knowing that I’m helping out with such a good cause makes it that much better.”

Smith said he didn’t expect to be as nervous as he was as he got set to head out but admitted he’s never taken on a swimming challenge as big as this. Although he’s been training three days a week at Silver Lake and takes a master swimming class in Sackville, and has also tried out an 11-kilometre stretch along the Northport shore, he’s never swam out into such deep and open waters.

“I’m taking on something I’ve never done before,” he said.

His father Brenton, his accompanying kayaker, said he wasn’t nervous at all for his son, saying he had all the confidence in the world Peter will accomplish what he set out to do.

“We’ll make it across, one way or another, we’ll get there,” he said.

Sackville swimmers Scott Harris and Sean LeMoine are also taking part in today’s Big Swim. Harris was accompanied by kayaker Emilie McBride, also of Sackville.

Swimmers can take anywhere from three to eight hours to complete the crossing. Each kayaker will be outfitted with a Spot GPS that will record GPS updates in 10-minute intervals. So family and friends can keep an eye on the location of their swimmer by visiting www.givetolive.ca/the-big-swim/about-the-big-swim/, where a map and dashboard will appear with numbered icons to represent each swimmer.

The Big Swim, organized by Give to Live and now marking its eighth year, has inspired swimmers from ages 12 to 70 to attempt the crossing from Cape Jourimain to Borden-Carleton.

Swimmers this year include 28 from Nova Scotia, 14 from New Brunswick, three from Alberta, three from Ontario and one from PEI. This contrasts to the first year, when the Big Swim attracted three swimmers.

A total of $125,000 was raised during last year’s Big Swim, bringing the total to over $1 million.

The goal this year is $150,000.

More photos and info to come.

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