Keith Evans (right) helps Estell Crews out of the water after their swim of Cowichan Lake on Sept. 7.

Keith Evans (right) helps Estell Crews out of the water after their swim of Cowichan Lake on Sept. 7.

Woman swims Cowichan Lake

Following in the footsteps of many who have gone before her, Estell Crews of Sydney B.C., swam Cowichan Lake

Following in the footsteps of many who have gone before her, Estell Crews of Sydney B.C., swam from Arbutus Park in Youbou, to the Cowichan Lake Marina on Sept. 7.

Crews swam the lake last year, between the Lake Cowichan Mobile Home Park and Honeymoon Bay, but this year she wanted to extend her distance.

Crews swam with a long-time friend, and triathlon athlete, Keith Evans. They were escorted by Ryan Mazis and his father from Orka Outdoor Recreation and Kayaking in a speed boat, as well as a friend in a kayak.

Pastor Vicki Marrs blessed the swim before the two took to the water.

They left Arbutus Park at 7:10 a.m. It took Evans a total of just under seven hours to complete, and Crews about seven and a half. The two had anticipated that it would take them about five hours, but strong headwinds and the resulting chop proved challenging for them.

“Boy, did it get rough out there,” said Evans once he emerged from the water. “That’s the longest distance I’ve ever swam.”

“The thing that I had trouble with was once we hit that chop,” said Crews. “Like Keith said, the waves were coming up over our heads at some points and we were rocking and that made it really tiring.”

The two were welcomed by a crew of about nine people once they reached the marina boat launch, each cheering and offering support, towels, food, and water.

As Crews came into view, with the crew from Orka close behind her, the theme from Rocky could be heard blasting across the water from the boat.

Crews said that there were a couple of points where she felt herself tiring and didn’t know if she could carry on, but Ryan and his father kept her going.

“I would have disappointed myself if I had quit,” she said.

“Keith, we did it,” said Crews after catching her breath on the shore.

Instead of accepting money for their help with the swim, the crew from Orka asked that any funds be donated to Cops for Cancer.

Crews plans on taking on other swimming challenges in the Greek Islands and in Croatia over the next couple of years. Most of these will only be three or four kilometres in length, so Crews feels these will be a breeze compared to her adventure across Cowichan Lake.