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Vicki's Log

Comments from Vicki on Completing the Swim

As I fought through the hallucinations on the 2nd night in the water, all I wanted to see was day light. I wanted the warmth of the sun, but also, as the sun rises, my reality becomes more obvious to me and the hallucinations tend to subside to some extent. As the sun rose on day 3 in the water, I asked for my tooth brush. Brushing my teeth always seems to help me wake up and prepare for whatever the day may bring.


Vicki Keith swimming

As I brushed my teeth, I began to accept the fact that I was going to be in the lake longer than I originally planned. The currents were not cooperating. The winds kept pushing into my face. I would change direction according to my route, and Mother Nature seemed to know my plan and react, throwing another challenge at me. Waves slapped me in the face, currents pulled me from side to side or dragged me backward. I inhaled wave after wave and choked and sputtered as I tried to raise my head higher to avoid the next wave.

Exhaustion was setting in, and I knew that I still had hours ahead of me. I readjusted my mind set and reminded myself that the goal was to complete the swim. It ultimately did not matter how long it took. I refused to allow myself to think of giving up. I had lots of options ahead of me – failure was the one option I refused to accept. My new goal I decided was to finish before sun set. At the time, it seemed to be a reasonable goal.

Approaching Fairfield Park was an awesome feeling. I could see splashes of red lined up along the shore, and “Chariots Of Fire” stretched out across the water encouraging me on, and signaling to me that the Y Penguins were watching.

Somewhere I found some strength that had been hiding out in some corner of my brain, and I started to swim stronger. My desire refreshed. The comprehension of my purpose clarified in my mind with each stroke.

It was the crowds along the shore, the honking horns, the sea of red, the music and the cheering that spurred me through the day. The hallucinations continued, my confusion grew, but my heart stayed strong. I was going to complete this swim and I was going to complete it for the young people on the Y Penguins.

As the sun set, I again had to adjust my goal. Finishing was paramount – time didn’t matter. As the darkness settled around me, the hallucinations grew. The currents were relentless. I felt like with every stroke I took forward, I was pushed back two. In the depths of the lake, I was sure I could see the bottom. It was covered in little patio sets – tables and chairs. I knew they weren’t really there, but their presence was frustrating. It was impossible not to judge my progress by what was in front of my eyes. Each time I took a stroke, I measured my progress by the distance I moved forward, according to my hallucination. Each stroke equaled about 1 inch. If I stopped for even a second, the hallucination rolled backwards as if on a treadmill. The depth of my exhaustion was immeasurable. I knew failure was not an option, but I was running out of options.

Each time I lifted my head out of the water to take a breath, I could see walls. Walls every where, because that was how the last 36 hours had felt. Challenge after challenge was thrown at me relentlessly with little sign of it easing off. Never did I think of calling it quits, but over and over, I questioned how I was ever going to finish this challenge that I had placed in front of myself.

After 63 and a half hours of swimming, John called from the zodiac beside me. “You’re done. You’ve completed your distance. Swim over and touch that rock and you are done”. I didn’t believe it was possible. I had been swimming towards Lake Ontario Park for what seemed like hours, and now he was saying I didn’t have to reach there to set the record. He reassured me that it was true, and I turned and started to swim towards the rock.

I was so completely exhausted as I touched the rock, that I questioned if I could have taken one more stroke, but at the same time, I knew that if I had to, I would have. I was determined to complete what I had set out to do. I broke down into sobs of relief, and felt John’s hands reaching down to help me stand and climb into the zodiac. I curled up in the bow of the boat trying to find warmth and relief, and then I looked up. I could hear the voices from Lake Ontario Park calling out to me. I looked out across the water from where they were coming from. I could still see the hallucinated walls that had blocked my progress, but beyond them, I could see the lights of Lake Ontario Park.

I turned to John and the boat operator, and said “OK, this is how it’s going to be”. The exhaustion momentarily disappeared as I clarified that I was going to climb from the boat under my own power, greet the crowd and of course the Y Penguins.

There was an ambulance and a stretcher waiting for me as I climbed ashore. I took one look at it and said to myself “there is no way I am leaving this park on a stretcher”. I climbed from the boat with a little help from John, greeted the crowd, spoke with the media and chatted and hugged each of the young people from the Y Penguins. There were hundreds of people standing on the shore, and I wanted to greet each person there and thank them personally, but I was being encouraged strongly to be checked out by the paramedics.

I walked up the hill and climbed into the ambulance. We had a quick chat, they checked me over, and my vital signs were well within the normal range. By the time I climbed out of the ambulance, the crowd had mostly dispersed, and I was starting to fade.

We climbed into our car and drove off to the hotel for a good night sleep.

The next day was filled with media interviews, and we finally got home to Amherst Island around 2:00 pm. I did one final interview at 3:00 at home. I sat down to relax for a little while and just before 7:00 I drove down to the Fire Hall for our weekly training. I know no one would have blamed me for missing that one, but it was really fun to see all the guys shake their heads and laugh when I came through the door.

The training that night was ropes and ladders. I declined to climb as I was pretty sore, my muscles were a little tight, and every time I closed my eyes, I would immediately go into rapid eye movement (dream state).

It took me close to a week to come down from the emotional high and get a full night sleep, and a good three weeks before I was back to normal (if I can use that word).

Listen to Vicki's interview on K-Rock (7 Megs)

 

Click here for a map of Vicki's Current Location

(Updated at 8:15)

11:15 p.m. - This will be the last update for tonight, we will post comments from Vicki after she wakes up.

11:08 p.m. - Vicki has arrived at Lake Ontario Park via boat.

10:56 p.m. - K-Rock is reporting that there are thousands of people at Lake Ontario Park waiting to meet Vicki.

10:48 p.m. - Vicki has just completed her world record swim.

10:45 p.m. - K-Rock is reporting that Vicki has just broken her 75.9 km world record and has headed for the closest point of land in order to end the swim. Once she is out of the water they will boat her over to Lake Ontario Park to meet the many well wishers.

10:40 p.m. - K-Rock 105.7 is reporting that hundreds of people are showing up at this hour at Lake Ontario Park as word of Vicki's new arrival point spreads.

10:00 p.m. - Vicki continues to push on towards Lake Ontario Park at this hour. Vicki is expected to reach the park around 12:00 a.m. tonight or 65 hours after leaving Point Petre, Prince Edward County last Monday at 7:00 a.m.  K-Rock 105.7 is asking their listeners to head on down to the park to greet Vicki.

8:45 p.m. - The crew has decided to direct Vicki to finish her swim at Lake Ontario Park instead of Confederation Basin. This will shorten the swim to approximately 78 km which would still be a world record swim. It is expected that at the current pace Vicki will still take another three hours to complete the swim. Vicki is currently rounding Carruthers Point south of Dupont.

8:30 p.m. - Vicki is now entering her third night of this marathon swim, a third night that wasn't expected nor welcomed, however on she plunges.

7:50 p.m. - Vicki is near Dupont Beach where another huge crowd has gathered and will be in sight shortly from Lake Ontario Park. The boat with the navigators on board had run out of fuel, but is running again so we'll have a map update shortly once they've caught up.

7:00 p.m. - Vicki has now been in the water an amazing 60 hours.

3:30 p.m. - Vicki continues to plug away at this hour. Vicki has now been in the water an amazing 56 1/2 hours. Once again the winds are blowing. At her current pace she won't arrive at Confederation Basin until late tonight. The hope is that the currents will increase as she rounds Lemoine's Point and heads for Confederation Basin which would shorten the time somewhat.

12:30 p.m. - Vicki is just south of Sherwood Avenue in Amherstview and heading back out towards Lemoine's Point. Cars continue to line up along Highway 33 to watch Vicki swim.

11:30 a.m. - Vicki has completed her swim pass of Fairfield Park where she was met by hundreds of well wishers. She should now be heading towards Lemoine's Point on the other side of Collins Bay.

10:00 a.m. - Vicki has reached the north side of the channel between the mainland and Amherst Island near Nicholson Point. She is now turning east to swim along the shoreline.

9:00 a.m. - Vicki continues to fight the wind and water currents at this time as she approaches the end of County Road 6 just west of Amherstview. Vicki is forced to continue in this direction until she clears the Brother's Islands as the south side of the islands are too shallow for the boats. Once she makes her turn back towards Kingston the wind should help her.

8:00 a.m. - Vicki is probably an hour out from Fairfield Park in Amherstview at this hour.

6:15 a.m. - This morning Vicki is beginning her third day in the water as she approaches the 48 hour mark of her swim. Vicki had a really hard time last night after passing by the ferry dock. Brisk northerly winds kept pushing the boats and Vicki towards the Island as they tried to make their way north towards Amherstview. Vicki also became fixated for a time on the many lights of the Millhaven Invista Plant while her crew urged her to turn back towards Amherstview. Vicki has also been hallucinating although she has said in past that this is normal for her on long swims. She continues to joke with the crew. The crew expects to hit Nicholson Point in approximately 1 hour and Amherstview in 2 to 3 hours.

August 17 - 2:30 a.m. - Vicki was met by well wishers at the Amherst Island Ferry Dock. Vicki could be heard chatting with well wishers and her crew members as she passed by. Since the last update Vicki has swam at almost 2 km/h. Her current pace should put her near Amherstview by sunrise but she will need to cross the North Channel between Amherst Island and the mainland first. A stiff northerly breeze will not make this task any easier. Vicki is also now in sight of Kingston's lights.

11:30 p.m. - Vicki's pace has slowed to 1.1 km/h during the night. Vicki is currently 2 1/2 km west of the north-eastern tip of Kerr Point. At her current pace she should arrive at the Ferry Dock around 3:00 a.m. and Fairfield Park in Amherstview sometime between 6 and 9:00 a.m. in the morning. Vicki has at least twice exceeded 50 hours in a swim and will need to do so this time in order to complete this world-record swim. Our next update should be around 6:00 a.m. with Vicki on her way to Fairfield Park.

10:30 p.m. - Current estimates have Vicki swimming past the Amherst Island Ferry Dock sometime between 2 and 4:00 a.m. and arriving in Kingston sometime in the late afternoon or early evening. We hope to receive another update sometime around 11:30 p.m.

9:00 p.m. - Vicki has passed the Village of Emerald on Amherst Island. The road along the north side of Amherst Island was lined with well wishers urging Vicki on.

7:00 p.m. - Vicki has picked up the pace now that she is finally being aided by the currents.

5:30 p.m. - Vicki is rounding the head of Amherst Island at this time. Vicki has been in the water now for 34.5 hours and has traveled over 51 km the same distance as a crossing at the west end of Lake Ontario near Toronto.

3:00 p.m. - Vicki continues to fight the current in the Upper Gap. Winds have swung to the southwest and are pushing her somewhat closer to the Island. At her current rate of 1.5 km/h she will reach the west end of Amherst Island between 5 and 6:00 p.m. tonight. However the current conditions remain very fluid and times are subject to change rapidly. As she rounds Amherst Island she should have the currents in her favour.

11:00 a.m. - Vicki is encountering strong currents against her as she moves closer to the Upper Gap between Amherst Island and Prince Edward County. This will delay her arrival at the Amherst Island Ferry Dock until later today. Vicki is currently about 6 miles from the western tip Amherst Island and is still swimming strong, just making little headway at this time.

August 16 - 6:00 a.m. - Vicki has completed her first night, and is now slightly ahead of schedule. She has crossed the half way point between Point Petre and Kingston. Vicki and the crew used the Lennox Generating Station stacks with their blinking lights as their guide throughout the night. Waves continue to be higher than expected and Vicki was seasick during the night. Vicki will be beginning her eastward leg along the north shore of Amherst Island with a swim past the Amherst Island Ferry Dock sometime later today.

10:00 p.m. - Vicki has started her first of two nights. The first day was one of higher than expected winds, but they were at her back. Vicki remains in excellent spirits and continues to swim strongly. Vicki has rounded Long Point and is heading northward. Cell phone reception is very spotty at this point in the trip and will likely remain so during the night as she crosses Prince Edward Bay. It should improve tomorrow as Vicki rounds Amherst Island and begins her eastward leg towards Kingston.

7:00 p.m. - Vicki is now 12 hours into her swim and approximately 30 to 45 minutes from the tip of Long Point. John Munro has gone ahead to meet with supporters at the tip Long Point. The winds have once again been somewhat stronger than expected.

4:50 p.m. - Vicki is approximately 3 km from Long Point in Prince Edward County. She should be passing the point between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m. tonight. As she passes the point she will swing north to cross Prince Edward Bay towards Cressy Point at the north western tip of the County.

2:00 p.m. - Vicki is about 6 and a-half miles from Long Point, and is still in great spirits. The wind has picked up substantially, but is still at her back and waves are up to a meter high!

10:00 a.m. - Vicki stopped for her first feeding at 9:00 am, she had some arrow root cookies, a fruit cup, dextrose tablets and water. She joked with the crew during this time and started her swim seven minutes later. She's cruising along at about 3 km per hour. Conditions are calming with light wind.

August 15 - 8:00 a.m. - Swim Update - Vicki started her swim at 7:05am to the cheers of the Kingston YMCA Penguins and their parents. The water is reasonably calm with a light wind and Sunny. More updates to come

August 13 - Swim Update - Plans are for Vicki to begin her second attempt at an 80 km butterfly swim on August 15th. The swim will begin at Point Petre at the southern tip of Prince Edward County. Vicki will proceed east to Prince Edward Point and turn north towards the Lennox Generating Station. When Vicki reaches the western tip of Amherst Island she will turn east once again and proceed along the north shore of Amherst Island including a swim-by of the Stella Ferry Wharf. She will continue east to Preston Cove and turn north towards Amherstview's Fairfield Park. Upon reaching Fairfield Park she will turn east again towards Lemoine Point and on into Confederation Basin sometime on the morning of Wednesday August 17th. There should be a number of viewing opportunities at various points along the way. Check back here during the swim for additional information.

August 3rd - Swim Update - When we left Oswego Harbour we hit huge waves coming from the northwest - pushing directly against Vicki. The waves were so strong that 22 of 27 crew members became ill. Vicki continued to swim strongly, but made little progress. The wind switched to the west and quieted a bit in the afternoon so the crew thought the forecast was going to be accurate and winds were going to switch to the southwest and calm down.

Once night hit the winds swung back to the northwest and increased in intensity. Vicki was swimming directly into 3 metre waves. Vicki also became quite sea sick. She was violently ill throughout the night and considered getting out a number of times but she thought about the young people in the Y-Knot programs and the support she was receiving from the public and she knew she had to continue. As the sun rose and Vicki could see the horizon her stomach settled and she was able to once again enjoy the challenge of the swim.

Early in the morning the crew received quite a scare, when they turned away from Vicki for a second, turned back and she was gone. It took 2 to 3 minutes to find her swimming through the trough of a wave.

Around 6:00 a.m. Vicki spoke to some of her crew and discovered that the weather was not going to change in the near future, that the waves were going to continue to pound on her and her sea sick crew.

A discussion was held and it was determined that against the waves the swim could take up to 80 hours. There was also the health and well being of the crew to take into account and it was decided that the swim should be cancelled due to the weather.

Vicki climbed out of the lake at 6:51 a.m. almost 24 hours after leaving Oswego.

As the Kayak crew paddled to the sailboat a rogue wave caught the kayak and flipped it over tossing two crew members and their equipment into the lake.

Vicki is in high spirits and no worse for wear from the experience.

12:20 p.m. - Vicki came out of the water at 6:51 a.m. this morning. She had been making just over 1 km/h due to the wave conditions which would have added another 40+ hours to her estimated 48 hour swim.

August 3 - 10:00 a.m. - Vicki is out of the water. Unfortunately due weather conditions the progress being made was too slow with the large waves being encountered to complete the entire swim. It is our understanding that Vicki will try again at a later date. More details to follow.

9:45 p.m. - Vicki is continuing to swim strongly on into her first of two nights she will face during this crossing. Unfortunately we've been unable to make contact with the crew despite numerous attempts. We will continue to attempt to establish communications tomorrow. K-Rock 105.7 however is in contact with Taz on a regular basis.

3:29 p.m. - Vicki is continuing to swim strongly. The GPS map is now working but is only updated when the satellite phone is in use. You will need to zoom out to the regional level to see the shoreline. Click on the links above to see the latest news articles about Vicki from various news organizations.

11:30 a.m. - Vicki has completed the first 6 km of her swim. Please note that we've been unable to contact the crew via the satellite phone for some technical reason.

9:00 a.m. - Vicki received her first feeding this morning. Winds have now switched to a westerly direction. The Kingston Whig Standard has a number of articles about Vicki in this morning's papers.

August 2 - 7:47 a.m. - Vicki entered the waters of Lake Ontario at 7:02 a.m. this morning in Oswego, New York. At 7:47 a.m. she is passing the lighthouse and has exited the breakwater of the harbour. Waves are 3 to 4 feet with winds out of the northwest. Winds are expected to swing to the west later today and to the southwest for the remainder of the swim.

August 1 - Swim Update

Vicki is in Oswego, New York tonight making final preparations for tomorrow's swim. Weather permitting, the swim should start around 7:00 am tomorrow. Check back here for updates during the swim.

July 31- Swim Update

Hi All,

This is just a quick update to let you know that it is looking like the swim will start this Tuesday at 7:00 am. There is a slight possibility that the weather changes up slightly and we start Wednesday. Please keep an eye on the web site www.penguinscanfly.ca for updates - don't forget to sign the Guest Book!!

Vicki