Countless bowls of macaroni, empty tubs of anti-chafe cream, dozens of Hornby granola bars, two destroyed wetsuits, a few in-water naps, a hallucination or two and 71 hours of constant determination were all part of one man’s journey to swim across Okanagan Lake.
Early morning on August 1, ultra endurance athlete Nick Pelletier pulled his goggles down and set off from Vernon to swim 106km across Okanagan Lake to raise money for the Canadian Mental Health Association.
The dream began three years ago in 2020, when Pelletier first attempted the feat. Unfortunately, excruciating wetsuit chafing ended the effort early. In 2021, the second attempt to conquer the lake was cut short by shoulder and wrist injuries after being thrashed by waves for hours on end.
This time, things were different. Pelletier’s friends and family told a Black Press reporter who boated out into the lake to interview the athlete that he had brought a completely different mindset to this attempt.
Since his last swim effort, Pelletier has completed massive adventures including a solo bike ride across Mexico. The experiences have changed his approach to the endeavour of swimming across the lake, said his mother, while on the support boat.
He maintained a positive but determined attitude throughout, staying focused when his shoulder gave out, when he was shivering uncontrollably after three nights in the frigid lake.
Pelletier’s motto is “comfort breeds complacency,” and he demonstrated his unrelenting mental toughness over the journey.
When Pelletier’s initial plan to break the 40-hour world record swim slipped away, Pelletier remained steadfast in his second goal; to complete the swim.
After days of being fuelled by cheers echoing in from the shore and passing boats, community support and an overwhelming amount of love, Pelletier touched the sandy shores of Penticton at 4a.m. on August 4.
Before standing up, Pelletier pumped out a few push-ups in the shallow water while surrounded by cheering crowds.
He is currently being evaluated at the hospital in Penticton and will give more updates after much needed rest.
To donate to the Canadian Mental Health Association and read more about Pelletier and his adventures visit nickpelletier.ca.
Follow along with Nick’s progress at kelownacapnews.com. He started from the north end of the lake on Aug.1. Have you seen him on his journey?