Okanagan youth tackles English Channel

Mike Stamhuis, who swam English Channel with team in 2013, helping mentor Kelowna teenager

A Kelowna teenager is soaking up sage swimming advice from a Coldstream mentor.

Emily Epp, 17, hopes to swim solo across the English Channel in July and is getting tips, coaching and encouragement from three men who have gone before her.

Mike Stamhuis, 63, a member of the Vernon Masters Swim Club, joined four Kelowna swimmers – including Phred Martin – that successfully crossed the Channel in 2013. Epp has been leaning on the wisdom of Stamhuis, Martin and the man who inspired her to attempt the Channel, her coach, Brent Hobbs. Hobbs crossed the channel solo in 2008.

“After Brent successfully swam the Channel solo, he was the guest speaker at the Kelowna AquaJets (swim club) year-end banquet. Emily was 10, Brent gave a talk about his swim and said, ‘Gee, I think I want to do that when I’m older,’” said Stamhuis, who has officiated AquaJets swim meets for nearly 20 years, and is a friend of Epp’s father.

“This (crossing the Channel) has been a goal of hers for the past half-dozen years or so.”

To prepare for her attempt, Stamhuis and Hobbs accompanied Epp as she recently swam around B.C.’s Bowen Island, a 35-kilometre swim that she completed in just under 11 hours.

The English Channel is 37 kilometres. Stamhuis and his team made the crossing in about 13 hours. Like Stamhuis and all swimmers that attempt the Channel, Epp will have to swim in just a bathing suit. Wet suits are not recognized for a Channel attempt. She swam around Bowen Island in a swim suit, goggles and bathing cap. Temperature of the water was 14 C at the start of her swim.

“I think she’ll be alright,” said Stamhuis. “The Bowen Island swim was a good test. Once she got around the southwest point of the island, she was exposed to the Salish Sea (Georgia Straight) where it was windy and some pretty tough conditions.

“We were quite hopeful she could experience what crossing the Channel will be like. Much of the swim (around Bowen) was done in ideal conditions. But about the final two-thirds of the swim it got tough for her.”

Epp will have Hobbs and her parents in her support boat as she attempts to swim the English Channel. Epp leaves July 10 and hopes to hit the water on or around July 14.

Epp is using the swim as a fundraiser, hoping to raise thousands for Canuck Place, a children’s hospice.

Just Posted

Okanagan Wildfires: Monday morning update on wildfires and evacuations

A Monday morning look at the major wildfires impacting the Okanagan and Similkameen.

Peachland wildfire mapped at over 1,500 hectares

Smoke may increase today around the valley

Okanagan Mountain Park fire remains the same size

Crews built hand guards and continued to extinguish hot spots.

BC Games: Day 3 wrap and closing ceremonies

The torch in the Cowichan Valley has been extinguished as Fort St. John gets ready to host the 2020 BC Winter Games

Man charged in 2006 B.C. murder extradited to Canada from South Korea

28-year-old Jui-Kai Weng was charged with second-degree murder and attempted murder

Nitty Gritty Dirt band returns to the South Okanagan

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will perform at the South Okanagan Events Centre

Soaring temperatures, high winds could worsen fires in B.C.’s southern Interior

Environment Canada’s forecast for the next week in the southern Interior does not inspire confidence, with temperatures in the 30s and winds gusting over 40 kilometres per hour.

Iran dismisses Trump’s explosive threat to country’s leader

Trump tweeted late on Sunday that hostile threats from Iran could bring dire consequences.

Update: Police probe Toronto shooting that killed 2, injured 12; suspected gunman dead

Paramedics said many of the victims in Danforth, including a child, were rushed to trauma centres

Why do they do it? Coaches guide kids to wins, personal bests at the BC Games

Behind the 2,300 B.C. athletes are the 450 coaches who dedicate time to help train, compete

Reel Reviews: Floundering inferno

We quote Charlie Brown: “Good grief!”

UPDATE: Five taken to hospital following one of two Coquihalla accidents

One airlifted in critical condition, four taken via ambulance in stable condition

Most Read