**** Event Media Release
2021 BIG SWIM to be in Nova Scotia for First Time
For the first time in The BIG SWIM’s 10-year history participants will swim in the waters of Nova Scotia. In light of COVID-19, instead of the typical crossing of the Northumberland Strait from New Brunswick to PEI this year’s 53 swimmers and kayakers will complete 8km and 12km loops within the Bras d’Or Lakes in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.
“This year’s event is going to look a lot different than our typical 14km+ BIG SWIM year alongside the Confederation Bridge,” says Angie Selig, GIVETOLIVE Board Chair, Water Operations Coordinator for The BIG SWIM, and longtime GIVETOLIVE volunteer and event participant. “After not being able to hold our BIG SWIM last year at all due to COVID, back at the end of last year we made the decision to keep all four of our GIVETOLIVE events within Nova Scotia and bring The BIG SWIM to Cape Breton. It’s an exciting new location for us.”
The BIG SWIM takes place this year on Sunday, August 8. It involves swimmers, paired with support kayakers. They enter the water from a secured event location at the Inverary Resort. The first group will head out at approximately 8:00am and finish within two to five hours.
Among those swimmers will be people from all walks of life who have their own personal reasons for participating:
“Brigadoon has been very important to our family. My daughter Maryn was diagnosed with liver cancer 17 years ago at age 2.5. Several years later, she heard about Brigadoon and asked if she could go. Of course, it was difficult to let her go, but the camp support was amazing, and she had a wonderful time. She returned for 7 years, eventually participating in leadership camps and becoming a junior counsellor. It truly was a place where this extraordinary kid could be ordinary!” – Nick Matheson, 48, Bedford (first time BIG SWIMmer). 20-year-old Maryn will be his support kayaker.
“I have been a swimmer most of my life and have enjoyed distance swimming. I participated in other fundraising events for Brigadoon Village and love what it does for children. I have always wanted to do The BIG SWIM and since this year it is in Cape Breton, where I grew up swimming every summer, I was very interested! “– Sharon Floyd, 54, Middle Sackville (first time BIG SWIMmer), being accompanied by her 23-year-old daughter Jass Dolan
“I’m doing The BIG SWIM to take on a challenge for myself and get back into swimming after almost 20 years.” – Chris Hanlon, 38, Halifax (first time BIG SWIMmer). He’ll be accompanied by his kayaking brother Greg.
“My granddaughter Hannah was born 3 years ago, 2 months prematurely with poorly functioning kidneys and spent 4 months in hospital. She left in July on peritoneal dialysis. In March 28 of 2020 she received an adult kidney from an unknown donor. Her growth and development took a steep pitch upwards. She loves swimming, running and riding her bike. Our kids have been campers since they were born. We want any children to be able to go to camp and experience those joys in a great environment. Brigadoon Village gives that opportunity to many children having varying disabilities.” Freeman Churchill, 68, Halifax (second time SWIMmer). Accompanying him will be his wife Elaine.
“I want to challenge myself and participate with my cousin while raising money for a good cause.” – Heidi Sutherland, 15, Halifax. First time BIG SWIMmer, inspired by her 14-year-old cousin who completed it in 2019 and who is doing it again this year.
Paul Studley and Susan Nelligan are a couple who are both swimming this year. They’re doing it as part of a year of challenging themselves. The two have already completed GIVETOLIVE’s two other fundraising events this year, The BIG CHILL (a snowshoeing fundraiser in February), and The BIG RIDE (a cycling fundraiser in June). Paul’s daughter is kayaking for him.
They are one of many family swimmer / kayaking pairs that will be on water, including Moms and daughters or sons, married couples, brother/sister pairs, and Dads and their daughters or sons.
Another pair is return swimmer Andrew Thallameir and his 14-year-old son Nicholas who is kayaking for him. Andrew first completed The BIG SWIM a few years back and is keen to return in its new format. Nicholas, a senior scout with the 26th Halifax Scout Group, is helping his Dad with his fundraising as part of his Chief Scout project.
“To follow in my sister’s footsteps, to challenge myself, and to raise money for Brigadoon Village.” – Jaime Walker, 35, Conquerall Mills (first time BIG SWIMmer). She will be accompanied by her sister who did the swim, Jennifer McKay.
With the location change and COVID-19 restrictions still being in place there’s lots of changes to the event. The most important thing has stayed the same – The BIG SWIM will once again support Brigadoon Village. Brigadoon Village is a non-profit pediatric medical camp facility on Aylesford Lake in the Annapolis Valley. With its partners, they deliver year-round camp programming to Atlantic Canadian children, youth and families living with health conditions or other life challenges.
“We’re thrilled to once again be able to raise money for Brigadoon Village and provide the opportunity for more kids to experience the magic of camp,” says David Graham, CEO Brigadoon Village. “After a difficult 2020 without any in-person camps, we’re very happy to say that kids are headed back to camp this summer starting July 25. Over 85% of kids who attend Brigadoon’s programs require funding support so we’re aiming to raise $175,000 to send 135 kids to camp.” To support the swimmers people can donate online.
Over the past 10 years, Brigadoon has grown to host over 1,500 children and youth at the nearly 30 camp programs it hosts throughout the year. Due to growing wait lists for its programs, Brigadoon is currently expanding its facilities to be able to provide new accommodations and program elements that will benefit campers and staff for years to come.
In its 10th year, The BIG SWIM has grown substantially as a fundraising event. It has attracted almost 350 swimmers and raised a combined $1.3 million to support Cystic Fibrosis Canada and Brigadoon Village.
Each kayaker will be outfitted with a Spot GPS that will record GPS updates. You can access the complete list of swimmers participating in the event by going to www.givetolive.ca, selecting the tracking link and locating the swimmer and kayaker pairing on the page.
In the past the swim has inspired swimmers ranging from 12 years old to 70 years old. The BIG SWIM is not a race and supports swimmers of all abilities.
Members of the media are encouraged to communicate with Tracy Ashley, who will be on-land and aware of the progress of each swimmer and their expected time of arrival.
The BIG SWIM is organized by GIVETOLIVE, a volunteer organization dedicated to ending illness and disease by inspiring people to live happy and healthy lives through exercise, altruism and achievement. They help ordinary people achieve extraordinary things.
To date, GIVETOLIVE projects and events have raised more than $3.3 million for a variety of causes. They have four annual signature events: The BIG SWIM, The BIG RIDE, The BIG Feed, and The BIG CHILL.