Brent Hobbs (left) and the six members of the OMSC Lake Monsters relay team

Brent Hobbs (left) and the six members of the OMSC Lake Monsters relay team

Okanagan swimmers to take on English Channel

Okanagan Masters Swim Club members post qualifying times on Saturday in cool, rainy conditions

A few people might be very certain that they spotted Ogopogo in Okanagan Lake on Saturday morning in windy and rainy conditions.

They in actual fact saw ‘monsters’ of another kind. Dubbed the ‘OMSC Lake Monsters’, five members of the Okanagan Masters Swim Club braved 13 degree temperatures and white-capped waves to do their qualifying swim for crossing the English Channel as a relay team next summer.

In order to swim the 35-kilometer crossing (if swum in a straight line), team members Denise Cesselli, Leora Dahl, Paul Duffield, Phred Martin and Tracy Sutton had to do a two-hour qualifying swim in 15 degree Celsius (or less) without the aid of a wetsuit during which they each covered approximately 7.5 kilometers. The sixth OMSC member of the relay team, Mike Stamhuis, is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and will do his qualifying swim at a later time. The OMSC team was joined by Mike Humphreys from Seattle who trained for six hours.  Humphreys is  hoping that his next solo attempt at crossing the Channel will be successful.

Supported by a number of friends and family members, the team is mentored by another OMSC swimmer and open water coach, Brent Hobbs who successfully crossed the channel as a solo swimmer in 2008 in a time of 10 hours and 43 minutes. Just how demanding the Channel crossing is, is evidenced by the fact that fewer people have successfully crossed the English Channel than have climbed Mount Everest.

When asked why they have taken on such a challenge Denise Cesselli said: “It’s a childhood dream come true. I get to swim the English Channel and the best part—I get to do it with a group of friends.”

Leora Dahl responded, “I love a challenge and this seems like one of those once in a lifetime opportunities to really see what I can do.”

Paul Duffield went back to his roots. “For an Englishman the English Channel is steeped in history. From the Roman conquest of Britain to the second World War, and of course the first successful swim across by Captain Matthew Webb in 1875. As part of the OMSC Lake Monsters I am looking to make my own little bit of history.”

All six members of the relay team are either competitive swimmers or triathletes who hope to join the record books for crossing the Channel.

The next challenge for the OMSC Lake Monsters is the Salish Sea Swim in August, which will require them to swim from Sechelt to Nanaimo. This will serve as a practice run for the English Channel.  Two of the relay swimmers are keeping blogs of their experiences leading up to the channel which can be found at and   Brent’s experience is captured at

For more information on Masters Swimming visit the OMSC website at


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