Friday, December 7, 2018

Age is just a number to marathon swimmer

By Matt Pascarella

There is no stopping Pat Gallant-Charette. Last year, I introduced you to the marathon swimmer who had broken six world records at the age of 66. A year later, Gallant-Charette has broken eleven world records and still wants to take her swimming career as far as she can.

A Westbrook resident who gave a presentation to the students at Windham High School last year, Gallant-Charette began her swimming career when she was 58 and swam the Peaks to Portland. Her initial intention was to only do that one swim, but she fell in love with the sport and it took off from there.

Gallant-Charette and her nephew after her Lake Tahoe swim
Since I last spoke with Gallant-Charette, she has completed four marathon swims within two months. She broke world records for three out of those four swims. She was also nominated for World Open Water Swimmer of the Year for the fifth time since she turned 60.

Ned Dennison, Chairperson of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, surprised her during the Open Water Swimming Conference in California. She was there as a guest speaker when Dennison announced she was to be inducted as an honoree member into the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame in Australia in March of 2019.

“I’m still stunned by it because I didn’t start my marathon swim career until the age of 58. I’m 67 now and to be inducted, I’m taken aback by it, it still hasn’t fully sunk in,” Gallant-Charette stated.
Aside from doing phenomenal in the marathon swimmer’s world, Gallant-Charette is a full-time grandmother, watching her three grandchildren, ages ten, eight and six. She recently started tapping trees to make syrup with them but makes time to train six days a week, swimming at least two hours a day.

Her upcoming swims or ‘bucket list’ swims, as she referred to them, are to finish a marathon swim in February in New Zealand, the final swim of the Ocean’s Seven (a marathon swim consisting of the seven open water channel swims); Lake Memphremagog in Vermont, her final of the Monster Swims (the others being Loch Ness and Lake Tahoe); a Switzerland swim and then she will go after the Stillwater Eight, eight very challenging lake swims in the world. It’s important for Gallant-Charette to convey the message of never being too old to accomplish your dreams and goals.

Although she has shattered so many records, when Gallant-Charrette sets out on a marathon swim, her goal is to not break records. She wants to complete the swim. The swims are fun challenges for her and if she breaks a record, great, if not, that’s ok too and it’s on to the next swim.

“I love the sport a lot; I have no intention of quitting,” she said. “I have a great crew that helps me. My brother and his wife, my sister-in-law and my son. I have family members that come with me, it’s a team sport even though I’m a solo swimmer. It really takes a really great crew to have a swim be successful.”

Gallant-Charette really wants to see what her capabilities are. She is a grandmother not only breaking records but doing some very challenging swims people in their 20s would have trouble doing (like the North Channel).

“For right now it’s a lot of fun, I just never imagined it’d get to this point.” You’re never too old says Gallant-Charette. “For me being 67, this was my strongest year ever in swimming.”

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