‘Pretty emotional’: Kelowna man swims entire distance of Okanagan Lake in 71 hours

In his latest feat, Kelowna’s Nick Pelletier proved that the third time is in fact the charm.

From Aug. 1 to Aug. 4, Pelletier swam the length of Okanagan Lake in an attempt to break the current Guinness world record.

“I did two attempts: one in 2020, had to stop because of chaffing; in 2021, I had to stop because my shoulder gave out. Those are both just before halfway and then finished it off this year,” Pelletier said.

In just under three days, Pelletier swam the entire distance of Okanagan Lake, from Vernon to Penticton.

“It took me 71 hours and 12 minutes — a lot longer than my goal. My goal was sub 40 (hours), because there’s only one person to do it, Adam Ellenstein. His record is 40 hours 57 minutes 11 seconds,” Pelletier said.

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Pelletier started the marathon swim on track to beat the record, but when the pain kicked in, it slowed him down.

“Then I had a shoulder give out about 20 kilometres, which is shorter than some of the training swims I did. So it was frustrating, but we just had to figure out a way to keep moving forward and got there eventually,” Pelletier said.

While physical challenges were expected, the mental challenges brought on a different type of fight.

“You get disoriented being in the water so long and not having slept in 70 hours,” Pelletier said.

“The water itself is very disorienting because at night time, you can’t differentiate the dark water and dark sky because you’re always rocking. I had hallucinations throughout. It was a journey for sure.”

Pelletier credited his crews for supporting him along the way and following him on the water.

He said he was also impressed by the number of supporters in the Okanagan who came out to cheer him on as he made his way through different cities.

“Records are cool, but I think the coolest thing is just having this crew around me and the support from thousands and thousands of people in the Okanagan and getting done a goal that I’ve had for so long,” he said.

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“Those moments of the time my crew we’re laughing out there, those are the moments I’ll remember forever.”

Pelletier’s arrival at the finish line was the moment he had been envisioning for the last four years.

“It was pretty emotional, having so many people at the end to cheer me on, but I was on a high for quite a while,” Pelletier said.

“I got taken by ambulance to the hospital to get my vitals checked and get blood work done. Once I got there, and I was laying down in the ambulance, I started to drift off.”

To make this feat even more rewarding, this marathon swim raised nearly $40,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association.

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