After 11 hours of swimming, there’s not a lot that could give you an energy boost.
But loud cheers from friends, family and supporters were just enough to help West Vancouver’s Scott Rees complete his awe-inspiring swim across the Georgia Straight last weekend.
“Hearing the cheers on the beach gave me the fuel, the fire I needed for the last 200 or 300 metres,” Rees told CBC News.
It’s a journey not often attempted, but Rees had a reason that kept him going.
He was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentose, which recently left him completely blind. He struggled to get around independently before he got his seeing-eye dog, Kaleb.
“The mobility that I have received through having a guide dog has given me back that freedom of moving around the city, getting to work, getting to the gym, getting to lunches with friends,” he told CTV News.
He wants to make sure no one else has to go without the intense benefit that having a seeing-eye dog brought to his life. Rees’ goal of raising money to help others to afford a guide dog inspired him to swim across the dangerous channel.
During his swim, Rees was joined by paralympic swimmer Donovan Tildesley, who swam alongside him for the first hour.
“That is truly a champion and an inspiration in my mind,” said Tildesley of Rees’s performance to CBC. “What better way to spend a Sunday than helping out a fellow blind person pursuing a sport that we both love?”
After leaving Sechelt at 6 AM, Rees arrived exhausted but elated at Pipers Lagoon in Nanaimo around 5 PM after just under 11 hours of continuous swimming.
Rees’s efforts in training for and completing the swim have definitely paid off.
As of Monday, he raised $124,401 for the charity Canadian Guide Dogs for the Blind to help visually impaired people access guide dogs, according to the organization.
None were more thrilled with the success of his swim than his wife, Alexandra, and two kids, who you can see greeting him as he walks onto the Islands shores in the video below.
To support Rees’ swim challenge, you can donate at Swimthestrait.ca.