The Incredible Swim Story of Wayne Strach

I started swimming competitively with a swim club in Stettler, Alberta as a thirteen year old in 1968, and by 1972 I qualified for nationals (Olympic Trials). I then retired way too early from competitive swimming in that year. Later I started doing open water swims in lakes, rivers, oceans, and even the Beaufort Sea in the Arctic. My longest swim was 456 km on the Peace River back in 1990, taking 14 days to complete. I have been training with the Edmonton Masters Swim Club for the last two years and swam one year for the Qualicum Beach Swim Club on Vancouver Island in 1996. On Aug 21st last year I completed an English Channel swim, becoming the oldest Canadian to have done so. Most of my training for the English Channel Swim and much of the training for my Okanagan Lake swim was done at the Leduc Recreation Centre in Leduc, Alberta, where I live.

For my upcoming swim, I plan to swim the entire length of Lake Okanagan from near Vernon to Penticton, then to Naramata, then across the lake, and return to Penticton to make up a 135 km track. If I were able to maintain my open water pace time, I would complete the swim in under 42 hours. However, open water swims don’t often go as planned (weather, winds, waves, feeding times, wobbly course, etc.) so I am estimating 50 – 55 hr of continuous swimming to complete it. I have registered the swim with World Open Water Swimming Association WOWSA, so will be abiding by standard open water unassisted swimming rules. So no wet suit, no buoyancy devices for feeding or any purpose, no touching the support boat, etc. My support team will be able to feed me with some restrictions and I expect to be consuming about 300 calories on feedings spaced 60 minutes apart. Mostly gels, energy bars, nutrition drinks and some normal food. I will likely be burning 600 or more calories per hour depending on the water temperature, so I expect to lose 20 – 25 lbs during the swim. The longest unassisted swim recognized by WOWSA is 126 km by Australian Chloe McCardel and was swum in the Bahamas, so my Lake Okanagan swim will be a world record distance attempt. I have no real way to measure how well my body and mind will function after 40+ hours of continuous swimming, so I don’t quite know what level of success to expect, but the plan is to complete all 135 km.

I should mention that these types of endeavours are never individual events. This swim will not happen without the support of a lot of volunteers, so this will be our swim not my swim.
Thank you for your interest in my story,

Wayne Strach

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