Four friends who are inspired to raise awareness about maintaining a healthy Fraser River watershed are making plans to swim the river in 2015.
Jacquie Lanthier, who made her first trip down the Fraser River in 2012 with the Rivershed Society of B.C.’s Sustainable Living Leadership Program, was in Williams Lake last week promoting the leadership program and seeking community support for the women’s 2015 swim.
Lanthier was so impressed with her first leadership trip down the Fraser River in 2012 that she came back in 2013 as a trip facilitator, and will make the trip again this summer.
While participating in the leadership program Lanthier met the other three women who will make the 2015 swim with her to mark the 20th anniversary of Fin Donnelly’s first swim (he has done it twice) down the Fraser in 1995.
“We realize that none of us is an Olympic swimmer but we thought that with four of us together we could do it,” Lanthier says.
“We want to raise awareness about ecological issues happening in the Fraser River watershed by showing how the river connects all of the varied communities across B.C. We want to inspire river stewardship and awareness and also provide a platform to celebrate the river for all of the people who depend on the river for their overall well being.”
Lanthier says the four-woman team will swim the Fraser River in two to four hour shifts each day and be accompanied by a support crew and guides from Fraser River Expeditions. They will wear wet suits and life jackets.
They plan to start their swim just after Overlander Falls near Mt. Robson on Aug. 25, 2015 and arrive in Vancouver on Sept. 27 for the World Rivers Day celebrations.
Lanthier is training for the trip by swimming in pools, swimming in the icy waters of Anderson Lake near Seton where she was house sitting for three weeks, and for two months this winter surfing at Long Beach on Vancouver Island.
She says she actually started surfing 12 years ago while on a trip to England. Originally from North Vancouver, Lanthier grew up snowboarding on area mountains.
She earned a teaching degree from Simon Fraser University and spent two years teaching in a relief position at a one-room school in Goldbridge near Lillooet, and is now travelling around B.C. promoting the leadership program and the 2015 swim.
She will make the trip with Amy Law, who is originally from Quesnel and is now living and working in Whitehorse. She says Law holds a masters degree with specialties in public affairs, environmental policy development and outdoor education.
Team member Sheena Miller is living in Smithers and works as a communications specialist and large scale event co-ordinator.
“Right now Sheena is rowing from Victoria along to the coast of B.C. to Alaska with her partner,” Lanthier says. “They have been planning the trip for eight years and built their own boats.”
Lanthier says she hopes to be in Bella Bella during the third week in May when her friends are expected to arrive there.
She says their fourth team member is Ali Howard, who is originally from Ontario and now owns a health food store in Smithers. She says Howard swam the Skeena River in 2009 to protest the drilling of coal bed methane in the sacred headwaters of the Skeena, Nass, and Stikine rivers.
Lanthier says the team will also be applying for grants to develop educational curriculum packages for schools. She says they are also discussing ways to promote the river such as wearing webcams while they swim to record the event.
“Some of the landscape you go through is just incredible,” Lanthier says. You can’t even believe it is B.C. sometimes and we want to bring that to people to connect them to the landscape, because when you connect with something you want to care for it and protect it.”