Four local swimmers are heading to Dover, England this July to swim the grueling 23 miles to France. The swim is both a personal challenge and a way to raise awareness of challenges facing the waters of the Puget Sound region where they train every week.
The Puget Sound Swimmers team of, Kate Curtis, Randy Perkins, Heidi Skrzypek, and Curtis Vredenburg have seen first-hand impacts from garbage, run-off and spills in both Puget Sound and Lake Washington during training swims. “Dealing with the cold and often rough water is hard enough, having to worry about pollution levels after it rains, or sewage overflows creates even more anxiety” said Vredenburg.
While over four thousand people have summited Mount Everest since 1953, there have been less than 3,500 successful Channel relay or solo crossings since the first one 143 years ago. “Making this swim will be a huge personal accomplishment” said team lead Kate Curtis, “but we want to give back to the waters that we swim in through highlighting the amazing work being done by People for the Puget Sound.”
For the past twenty years, the People For Puget Sound program at Washington Environmental Council has worked to protect the Sound, with a focus on clean water, oil transportation safety, and a healthy and productive habitat for orcas, salmon, and the many species who call Puget Sound home. The Puget Sound Swimmers team expects to raise funds, educate the community and highlight the legislative accomplishments that lead to a healthy ecosystem and a clean training ground. “We are thrilled that the Puget Sound Swimmers chose to support and highlight our work to protect and restore Puget Sound,” adds Rein Attemann, Puget Sound Campaign Manager at WEC.
The team of four depart for Dover in early July where they will have a 9-day swim window for the tides and weather to cooperate. Follow their journey here. Summer water temperatures average 58 degrees and no wetsuits or insulating gear is allowed.
Read more about the swimmers!
Curtis is at home in the water and has introduced many people to the joys of open water swimming over the past 5 years. As a classically trained French chef, Curtis loves to cook for his friends and you will often find him deep in conversation, bonding over food, a glass of red wine, and swimming stories. Growing up in Mexico, Curtis has had to acclimatize to the chilly waters of Puget Sound and the North Sea.
Heidi grew up body-surfing in Coronado, CA, and took up swimming as a late-in-life athlete off of her resident Vashon Island for health benefits. She competes in numerous open water races for fun, fitness and camaraderie, and advocates for clean water through local causes.
Kate grew up jumping in the ocean on Cape Cod but has only discovered the thrill of open water swimming over the last 5 years. She and Curtis Vredenburg swam the English Channel in 2016, but unfortunately did not make it to France. Kate is a passionate environmentalist and is inspired by fellow open-water swimmer Lewis Pugh, and his activism to call attention to global climate change.
Randy is always up for an adventure! He is the 12th person to make it across the Strait of Magellan, but had an unsuccessful solo attempt of the English Channel in 2017. A late comer to endurance swimming challenges, he has only five winters of skin swimming under his belt.