Swimmers take plunge into Sand Bay

They dove off the submerged government dock and faced relentless waves on Sand Bay, but 17 swimmers were all smiles as they completed the first-annual La Place Rendez-Vous Canada Day mile swim Monday afternoon.
They swam from the government dock to Rusty Myers Flying Service and back.
“In spite of the weather, it was great. I was really pleased,” organizer John Dutton said yesterday.
Organizers decided to revive the annual event, hosted by the Aquanauts swim team and La Place Rendez-Vous, which used to be part of annual Canada Day celebrations here but hasn’t been held in more than 20 years.
“I’ve been told when they used to have it, they only had three to five people swim. I was thrilled to have so many participate in spite of the weather,” Dutton enthused.
Weather proved to be a real challenge.
A tornado warning issued only minutes earlier postponed the swim for a half-hour. The ominous black clouds circled above before dissipating, but the passing storm left constant waves on the bay.
High waves meant having to keep a close eye on the swimmers—many of whom weren’t used to these conditions.
“We had four spotter boats in the water besides the power boat so we were pretty confident we had everyone well covered,” Dutton said.
One girl asked to be assisted by a boat during the race but for the most part, the swimmers didn’t experience any distress covering the distance.
“They were all pretty strong swimmers, especially the younger ones,” Dutton said.
Rachel Dutton, 12, and her sister Heather, 14, longtime members of the Aquanauts, both were eager to take part in the mile swim.
“It was really, really exciting to swim it. I thought it would be really long,” Rachel noted yesterday, though admitting the constant waves were a bit intimidating.
“It was kind of hard with the waves. I was a bit scared—afraid I would get pulled under the water,” she remarked.
Heather Dutton had completed a four-mile lake swim in the past but she also had trouble with the waves Monday.
“She found the waves tough and it was hard to find her direction at times. The waves were so high, she couldn’t see the buoys,” John Dutton said of his daughter’s experience.
Rachel said seeing canoes and spotter boats following along made her calmer. “If something happened, I knew they could come and get me,” she added.
Rachel Dutton had the top finish for females age 13 and under with a time of 27:46:59. Her sister, Heather, had the top finish for females 14-19—and the overall race—at 24:28:04.
“It was pretty exciting. I felt like I really accomplished something,” Rachel enthused. “I swam from my grandparents house to an island once but I never swam that distance in a race before.”
Other top finishers included Boyd Badiuk for males 13 and under (24:49:18), Aquanauts head coach Roman Ramirez for males 30-plus (34:47:18), and Pam Hawley for females 30-plus (41:49:32).
Hawley said she originally decided to swim after her daughter, Jennifer, entered the race. “I swim every day at the pool. I thought it would be a good challenge,” she noted yesterday.
Unfortunately, nerves hit Haw-ley just before the swim began. “I was very excited there was a tornado warning because I thought ‘Hey, maybe I won’t have to do this,’” she conceded.
“The waves were tough. I was hoping that on the way back they would be better and it would be easier to swim. It wasn’t.”
Hawley said she really had to get her breathing down so she wouldn’t be inhaling during the waves. But for the most part, Hawley was glad she and her daughter could share this experience.
“It was fun, but I didn’t swim beside her for long,” she joked. “She finished a good 15 minutes ahead of me.”
After the success of this first event, John Dutton and other organizers already are looking forward to next year.
“It would be nice to see some people in their 20s,” Dutton said. “We had lots of 30 and over and 13 and under but it would be great to see some teenagers.”
“I’m looking forward to doing it again next year,” he added. “We’re generally very pleased at the way it turned out.”
As for the swimmers, Hawley said she’d consider taking the plunge again. And there was no doubt in Rachel’s mind that she would do it again in a heartbeat.
“Oh yeah, of course!” she exclaimed.