Locals conquer channel

Battling the monstrous waves, stinging jellyfish, frigid water and currents, five local swimmers conquered the English Channel

Okanagan Lake Monsters (from left) Denise Cesselli

Okanagan Lake Monsters (from left) Denise Cesselli

Battling the monstrous waves, stinging jellyfish, frigid water and currents, five local swimmers conquered the English Channel.

The five local relay team swimmers, dubbed the Okanagan Masters Swim Club (OMSC) Lake Monsters, recently conquered the treacherous English Channel in a remarkable time of 13 hours and 41 minutes.

The team is made up of recent world masters winner Mike Stamhuis (Coldstream), Phred Martin, Denise Cesselli, Tracey Sutton and Leora Dahl.

They swam from Dover, England to Calais, France, each athlete swimming an hour at a time and battling the elements along with physical and mental fatigue.

Brent Hobbs, the Lake Monsters coach who successfully swam solo across the English Channel in 2008, said: “The team pulled together through much adversity. They battled very strong currents, cold waters, jellyfish and ocean swells in the middle of the Channels.”

Coldstream’s own Stamhuis kicked off the swim, giving the team a great start.

“Mike swam through some big waves to get us started but used the solo swimmer ahead of us as motivation and caught and passed her in his hour,” said Dahl on her blog.

The team endured seven days of poor weather before conditions favoured an attempt of the famed crossing.

Dahl stated in her blog: “I was told that I was closer to France at the 20 minute mark of my swim than I was at the end of my hour! The current had dragged me backward towards England, so that even though I swam 1.8 miles, by the end of the hour we were only 0.6 miles closer to France.”

The Okanagan Masters Swim Club would like to extend congratulations to the OMSC Lake Monsters for their dedication, athleticism, and determination.

Stamhuis and his mother Conny also competed in the 2013 World Masters Games  in Torino, Italy Aug. 4 to 10 and both walked away with several medals.

Conny earned gold in 100 back, 200 back and 50 breast and silver in 50 back.

Mike secured gold in 200 free, 200 back and 100 free and bronze in 400 free