June 22, 2018
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61-year-old Westbrook woman swims 33-mile Japan channel

The Associated Press

WESTBROOK, Maine — A Maine grandmother was stung more than 100 times by jellyfish en route to becoming the oldest person to swim the Tsugaru Strait in Japan, then she broke a rib while climbing out of the water and into a support boat, her daughter said Friday.

Despite being in pain, Pat Gallant-Charette, 61, of Westbrook, was pleased to have put the difficult swim behind her, said her daughter, Sarah Charette, who monitored her mother’s progress from Maine.

“She said that this has been her toughest swim to date,” Sarah Charette said.

Pat Gallant-Charette finished the 33-mile swim in 19 hours and 36 minutes in what was the middle of the night Friday in Japan. Family and friends got the word Thursday afternoon.

Wearing a swimsuit instead of a wetsuit, Gallant-Charette had little protection as she was stung 112 times by jellyfish, and she also had fish nibbling at her fingertips, her daughter said. Weary from the swim, she stumbled on the ladder and broke a rib while climbing into the support boat.

Gallant-Charette, a nurse, is on a quest to complete the “Ocean’s Seven,” seven long-distance, open-water swims around the globe.

Over the last two years, she already has crossed the Strait of Gibraltar, the English Channel and the Catalina Channel off California.

After the Tsugaru Strait, she’ll return home next week to rest up before the next leg, the treacherous Cook Strait in New Zealand, which she hopes to swim this April. After that, she plans to swim the Irish Channel in September and finish with the Molokai Channel in Hawaii.

Her daughter said her mother is ready to complete the quest.

“She’s capable of doing it as long as Mother Nature cooperates,” she said. “There’s a little bit of luck involved with the conditions, but she definitely has the ability.”

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