Kelowna’s Nick Pelletier had his attempt to swim 106 kilometres from Vernon to Penticton cut short due to medical reasons, but he nearly doubled his fundraising goal towards BrainTrust Canada’s Youth Concussion Clinic. (Nickpelletier.ca)

Kelowna’s Nick Pelletier had his attempt to swim 106 kilometres from Vernon to Penticton cut short due to medical reasons, but he nearly doubled his fundraising goal towards BrainTrust Canada’s Youth Concussion Clinic. (Nickpelletier.ca)

Kelowna athlete’s 106-km swim cut short, but funds finish strong

Nick Pelletier set out to traverse full length of Okanagan Lake in support of Youth Concussion Clinic

Severe chafing may have stalled Nick Pelletier’s attempt to swim the entire length of Okanagan Lake, but there was no stalling the funds that came in for the cause he was swimming for.

The Kelowna endurance athlete took to the waters in Vernon early Friday morning with his sights set on the beach in Penticton, 106 kilometres away. The only other athlete to complete the swim — Adam Ellenstein in 2016 — finished in just under 41 hours, setting an official Guinness World Record.

Along with chasing Ellenstein’s time, Pelletier was swimming in support of BrainTrust Canada’s Youth Concussion Clinic, a cause dear to him after a series of concussions forced his early retirement from college basketball.

“It’s a pretty scary and uncertain thing to go through when you are on your own,” he said.

READ MORE: Kelowna man vies for world record with Okanagan Lake swim from Vernon to Penticton

Around eight hours into the swim, Pelletier began to experience chafing — a common swimmer’s affliction made worse by the fact he was tackling greater distances in a wet suit than ever before.

By the 14-hour mark, the pain had become excruciating.

“It got to the point where we were going through tubs of Vaseline to try and combat it,” Pelletier explained. “Unfortunately, I had to call it just over 50 kilometres in.”

While ending the swim was “gut-wrenching,” Pelletier says he’s grateful for the above-and-beyond support from his team.

“I had an unbelievable support crew, and I couldn’t have asked for more supporting people to help me get through what I was going through.”

And having nearly doubled his $5,000 fundraising goal, he’s also grateful for the support raised for BrainTrust’s youth recovery program, which helps people aged five to 25 heal safely from a concussion or other traumatic brain injury.

It’s not he first time Pelletier has taken on an extreme athletic challenge for the sake of others. Last year he spent 50 days cycling 5,755 kilometres from the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Calif., to his family’s home in Old Orchard Beach, Maine. The result was more than US$11,500 for Pencils of Promises — an organization that builds schools and provides education resources internationally.

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Brendan Shykora
Reporter, Vernon Morning Star
Email me at Brendan.Shykora@vernonmorningstar.com
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