It is determination, grit and never forgetting what the goal is that identifies true champions.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON  August 27, 2012  It was the event that didn’t happen – and an event that was over shadowed by a close to identical event in another city.

Michele Benoit and her team drove to Port Dalhousie ten days ago to begin her swim from that community to Burlington; a distance of 45 km.  She didn’t even get started.  The weather, decided the experts, was not conducive to a swim and the team headed back to Burlington.

At the same time, a fourteen year old also cancelled her swim because of basically the same weather conditions.

The next day, the Saturday, the weather was close to perfect and Annaleise Carr slipped into the water and made her crossing to Toronto where she was warmly greeted and where the donations to the charity she was swimming for shot up into the tens of thousands.

Meanwhile Michele Benoit has to cancel her swim because the crew she had assembled would not have been able to stay on station for the full 27 hours it was felt she would need to complete her swim had she gone into the water as Carr had done.

Benoit, a 42 year old  Registered Holistic Nutritionist, was very disappointed in the delay.  One of her crew had to be in Belgium two days later and had to pull out of the support team.  The rules for solo swims are rigid – without a full team in place – the swim could not be sanctioned and wouldn’t count.

“Disappointed”, said Benoit “but not discouraged”.  Her task now was to re-assemble her team and set a new date and look for windows of opportunity that would also work for her team.

The “swim” is driven by the energy and dedication Benoit brings to this challenge.  She has to not only prepare herself physically and emotionally,  but she also has to keep her team assembled and then look for weather that will allow what she is setting out to do.

As of Sunday, Benoit was still looking for a 30 foot motor boat to complete the small armada that must accompany her.

With a full crew and the right weather conditions Michele Benoit will eventually slip into the water, without the wet suit, and swim Lake Ontario. Labour Day weekend might looks like her next date.

“I could be in the water Friday night, Saturday night or Sunday night of the holiday weekend we are heading into”, she said.  “But I can’t pick a date until I am certain that I have every part of my team in place and then know that the weather will work for me and that Solo Swim will sanction the event.  I know that’s asking a lot of the people helping me”, said Benoit.

And so we wait while Benoit continues to make the phone calls that will secure the boat she needs and then we wait for the weather reports.  When all those things align, there will be a small splash as she slips into the water at Port Dalhousie and begins swimming – stroke after stroke until some 24 to 27 hours later her crew can see the pier and know that she will soon land at the instant beach next to the pier.

Patience, grit, determination.



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