Last week I swam the Ottawa River ( Ottawa to Montreal )to raise awareness For environmental Issues of the River & also to complete another tough endurance ultra challenge. I started the swim around 3pm from Victoria Island which is just west of our Parliament Buildings. It was sad to see garbage scattered around my start area, if anyone from the NCC reading this, there are no garbage bins there would be good ideal to place some. It was great weather conditions, I was fortunate to have an tail wind all the way.The views from the River were awesome, the homes on Rockcliffe like 24 Sussex,the French and American Ambassador Residences and seeing the Chinese Tourists taking my picture as they are in the Tour Boats gave me an chuckle. Many boaters cruise up beside me and asked if I’m good? I said yes of courses and thank you very much for stopping and asking, I replied.
I stopped at Peitre Island Beach for bathroom break, adjust my gear and wolf down a can of beans and big bottle of gatoraid. The lifeguard was concerned about my marathon swim, he tried to talked me out of it,and ask me where is my life jacket? I laugh, then reminded him I’m Swimming! I wanted to take 1 hour break but those mosquitos were hungry and relentless so i thought it’s better to get swimming again. I forgot to reset my GPS tracker since I stopped for more than 30 minutes.So tracker didn’t work until I noticed the following day.
My goal was to swim through the night reaching Montebello.now it’s dark and awesome to swim through the night,get into an rhythm and hammer hard time. The water seem to be calmer less of chop at night. I approach Cumberland and I was surprised to see the ferry coming across the River,it was very difficult to judge the distance,I came kinda close to the ferry less than 50 meters away, then happy to pass that area. I can see from an distance the town of Rockland and on my left the noisy light up factory on the shore at Thurso Que. I think it is an paper mill. It was intimating to see that factory but happy to swim pass by it. My mind and vision is playing games now… But must remind myself that the River is same at night as during the day. From Rockland to Montebello there are weeds, lilly pads, and the River gets shallow and murky like gel. It becomes difficult and disappointing to Swim but nothing is easy, keep on swimming and make progress I told myself.
I was fortunate to have the wind on my back all the way which really helped and catching nice slow current also right in middle of river. I really covered a lot of distance without using a lot of energy. There was no reverse currents or dead spots, the river really had an nice flow through my Marathon Swim.
The beautiful Chateau Montebello was impressive to view at earlier morning sunrise . It was too difficult to take photos with the morning Sun in my face. I called for Ride ,as i am needed to return to Cornwall ( work issues ) and picked up some things I forgot. so I took 6 hrs break. I return back to the River were I left off and now another night time swim.This time I need to get to Hawkesbury before sunrise.The River opened up an bit wider, then around the bend I can see the lights of Hawkesbury and the big Bridge. I took few hours of break in Hawkesbury and I made arrangements for help to be resupply and take four hours for sleep.I left Hawkesbury and few hours later around an bend in the River I can see the Carillon Dam from distance. I stayed right in the middle of the river since it opened up wide. It took some time to portage the dam area and took another break.Here is where Ontario starts and now I’m swimming into Quebec the rest of the way.I asked an local resident if there was an restaurant nearby, and they said none but they offered me an Steak & potatoes on Bar B Que.
I saw a lot of shoreline waste like cups, plastic bags, cigarette butts, paper products, dead fish. I collected as much garbage as i could. The water seem to be very murky and shallow, and sad to say I didn’t see any fish up close,only few fish jumping,and I didn’t see a lot of fisherman either.
I finished the swim later the next day near Dorion. The swim was a great experience and as an Endurance Freak I really needed the punishment of an Hard Ultra Challenge. the most difficult thing about the Swim is trying to promote environmental issues,and to protect the Rivers through my Swims. Days later,I received an card from Our Minister of Enviroment Catherine McKenna, I think that was really neat.
Rank of Difficulty. 8 out of 10
Rank of Danger. 3 out of 10
Overall experience. Priceless!!!!