As newcomers to Canada, all three of us are constantly looking for new ways to explore this beautiful country. We’re all active, and open to new experiences – and this created the perfect conditions resulting in an informal swim team (Team Free Willy, to reflect our wetsuited appearance) to take on the Across the Lake swim ( in Kelowna, British Columbia. At a distance of 2.1km, and purporting to be ‘Canada’s largest open water swim’, the challenge seemed exciting and, with a little training, achievable!

We are inexperienced open water swimmers, to say the least. Stuart claimed that he earned lots of swim badges up until the age of 10, and from then on his aquatic activities were limited to splashing around in the pool on holiday. As a teenager, Becky was a qualified lifeguard for a short while – but never actually had to rescue a single soul. Only Katy had ever even owned a swimhat before, let alone completed an open water swim.

“Just keep swimming…”

Roll on the day of the event. It was before 7am, we had just been herded onto a yellow school bus, and were being driven to the far side of the lake. As we assembled at the start line, last minute toilet trips and drinks complete, and Katy’s Finding Dory-inspired advice to ‘just keep swimming’ ringing in our ears, we were ready! The inflatable archway on the other side marking the finish line seemed a long way away – but it wouldn’t be a challenge if it was easy, right?

With the waves and general chaos, there was no chance of us swimming together, but we all finished in a very similar time, all beating our 50-minute targets! I’m not sure how direct our routes were, how streamlined our swimming styles or powerful our techniques, but the important thing was that we’d done it, and we’d done it as a team.

Challenges are better with a chum!

Challenges are much better when you buddy up with other people. It could be someone to compare notes with during (in our cases, somewhat haphazard) training schedules, to encourage you, to plan logistics with and most importantly, someone to relive and celebrate with afterwards! Conveniently, our challenge took place in the heart of the Vancouver British Columbian wine region, so if course it would have been rude not to spend the rest of the day toasting a glass or two to our successes!

If you have a challenge in mind and you’re looking for the perfect chum – look no further! List a challenge on Challenge Chum, and get out there!

Katy, Stuart and Becky