In the middle of the night, 16-year-old Issie Grecoff walked into Okanagan Lake at the Peachland boat launch to begin a 32 kilometre swim to Penticton on Saturday, Aug. 14.
Through the darkness, Issie pushed one arm after the other into the water swimming through aches and strain. A safety boat and family were by her side in kayaks as she swam and swam.
After 12 hours of swimming, Issie walked on shore by the Peach in Penticton, falling to her knees in emotion. Family and friends hugged her and cheered on the huge accomplishment.
Issie did the swim in memory of her grandma Joan Wickett, who passed away in March 2022 from Alzheimer’s. The Penticton teenager wanted to raise money to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s. So far, she has raised over $10,000 with the fundraiser still open until the end of August.
“Besides a bad burn on my cheek I’m actually feeling pretty good now,” she said three days after her swim. “My team of family, friends and the boat captain ( Float Okanagan donated their pontoon boat) kept me safe, on a straight line and motivated.”
The hardest part mentally was the 18-24 kilometres to get from Peachland to Trout Creek, she said.
“It just seemed like I never got closer. Getting to Trout creek my mental state improved and I was able to take more to eat. I had a chocolate scone that Cobbs bread donated. Being able to see Penticton was the extra push I needed.”
The final eight km went faster and Issie finished the swim in just under 12 hours.
“I have been swimming all my life really. I grew up surrounded by lakes. I started swimming competitively in the pool at age eight and open water swimming at age 10.”
Issie swims with KISU Swim Club.
“I have been training hard all year in the pool and gradually moving over to open water.”
Both sides of her family are affected by Alzheimer’s disease.
“My grandma was always a huge supporter of my swims in Penticton so I decided to swim in her honour for the 2019 Skaha Lake Ultra Swim.”
She was able to raise $4,000 which was donated to the Alzheimer’s Society of Canada.