On Sept. 4, 2020, OC alumnus, Nick Pelletier will attempt to break the Guinness World Record for fastest swim of Lake Okanagan, 106 km, from Vernon, B.C. to Penticton, B.C.
In addition to the swim being a personal challenge, Pelletier is also raising funds to help support BrainTrust Canada, a non-profit dedicated to meeting the unique needs of people affected by acquired brain injury by providing evidence-based approaches to rehabilitation and recovery.
We caught up with Pelletier to hear more about what he’s been up to.
Q: Hey Nick! So tell us what was the motivation behind this mission?
A: The motivation behind this swim came from my inability to follow through on previously planned out endeavours because of COVID-19. My friend and I paddled from Vernon to Kelowna on a kayak earlier this winter and I thought challenging the whole lake would be a cool idea, but thought kayaking might be too easy. I decided I would start training and commit to attempting the swim later in the summer, and here we are!
Q: Have you swam anything this far before?
A: I have not swam anything this far before. During training, at a certain distance and time it is detrimental to your body to keep going as it breaks down after a certain point. You want to save the super long distances for the actual event itself so most of my training sessions are around 8-12 km and four hours in the water, though I have done a 22 km swim before as a long training session.
Q: This isn’t the first time you’ve done something like this, you did a bike ride across America last summer, right? Can you tell us a bit about that? How much money did you raise?
A: That is true, last summer I completed a cycling trip, solo, from San Francisco, California to our beach house in old Orchard Beach, Maine, 5755km across 14 states that took me 50 days to complete. I made daily vlogs along the way on my YouTube channel and did it all to help raise funds for a charity called Pencils of Promise. They help provide children who live in Ghana, Laos, Guatemala and Nicaragua with quality and sustainable education. I raised $11,593 USD over my fundraising efforts.
Q: What do you think your biggest take away from OC was?
A: My biggest take away from OC was definitely critical thinking. No matter the class or the program, one thing all of my professors had in common was preaching the necessity to think critically in our own lives. Whether that be thinking differently in a business sense or critically analyzing your own life and how you perceive and communicate with individuals, I learned how to become an independent thinker separate from a crowd or the norm.
Q: Who are your biggest influences?
A: My biggest influence at Okanagan College was Kyleen Myrah, as she was my Social Entrepreneurship teacher in my final year and gave me so much inspiration and insight regarding the social venture side of business and the impact that can be made by thinking and acting differently than the status quo. My biggest inspiration over my life is definitely my parents as they have taught me the morals of which I base my life upon and have given me ultimate freedom in the way that I choose to live my life, garnished by unconditional support. My biggest athletic inspiration is an athlete named Ross Edgley who is a physical and mental warrior and an individual who breaks norms as he is a strength, endurance and adventure specimen.
Q: Any other missions already brewing in your mind?
A: I’ve got no shortage of ideas regarding future projects...but you’ll just have to wait and see what I land on next! I would like to tackle each discipline, meaning I want to bike, run, swim, & climb, in every single type of environment: desert, jungle, ocean, arctic etc.
Q: Are you currently working? What are your career goals / future plans?
A: Unfortunately I lost a marketing job due to COVID-19, but I am currently working at Aqua Marine Valet and it has been a great relationship as they are helping sponsor my Lake Okanagan swim. I hope to be able to make my athletic endeavours a career in some way and will definitely use my marketing skills learned at Okanagan College to put myself in the best position possible.
Q: What advice would you give to OC students who will be graduating this year?
A: For those students graduating this year, I would say enjoy it, because you’ve worked hard over the past few years and I know all the time, effort, stress, and happiness that goes into a degree. Be proud of the accomplishments you have achieved. It is important to work hard towards your goals, but when you hit a milestone and achieve something, you need to take the time to reflect and celebrate your accomplishments along the way, while still being hungry and motivated for your future goals.
Q: If you could go back and do anything differently, would you?
A: The only thing that I would change is to not get so caught up on the little details of things and look bigger picture. Through my schooling I would stress about minor setbacks and with time, I learned to assess situations and weigh the importance. You need to be passionate about what you’re doing, otherwise it feels like work. Be able to get knocked down and keep moving in the right direction. Be able to combat any and every setback you encounter. Don’t let other people, or your own insecurities stop you from doing what YOU want to do. Go get it, because it won’t come to you.
To learn more about Nick’s swim, including how to donate, visit: https://nickpelletier.ca/lake-okanagan-swim/.
The Okanagan College Alumni Association (OCAA) is a non-profit organization that celebrates alumni by creating connections and opportunities.
The OCAA was founded in 1988. Since then, the goal of the Association has been to connect alumni with each other and with the College, while supporting the College's mission statement of transforming lives and communities.
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