on the Channel
Lily Samuels ’11
Sophomores Mackenzie Bradley
and Emma Reim love to swim.
Both are competitors on the
Smith swim team and they are each other’s training
Emma Reim ’13 (on left)
and Mackenzie Bradley ’13 in their element.
The pair’s love of swimming will be put to the test next August when
they set out to swim across the English Channel.
Yes, that English Channel: 21
miles across the Strait of Dover, from Dover, England,
to Calais, France. Twelve hours of straight swimming in
choppy, 60-degree water, through one of the busiest shipping
lanes in the world.
The bold idea was born at Smith.
“During a practice last year, our coach started telling us stories about the
two swimmers he had coached to swim the Channel in 1984,” remembers
Bradley of Kim Bierwert, head coach of swimming and diving.
“As he was talking, I couldn’t help but think: ‘this would be doable,’” adds
Reim. “So after our conference meet, we walked up to him
and told him we needed to talk. He already knew.”
The dramatic nature of the feat
is what drew the two women initially. “I want
to be one of the few who have done this,” explains Bradley,
a 13-year swimmer. “Plus,
it’s ideal as a way to push ourselves as swimmers. We’ve
both been doing this a long time, and it’s just a whole different
level of swimming.”
As with many challenging undertakings,
obstacles abound. “Honestly,
swimming is not that entertaining on its own,” admits Bradley. “We’re
going to have to find ways to keep ourselves focused for
over 10 hours. That’s a long time to
have to remain actively conscious of making times and keeping
Bradley and Reim, who has swam
for seven years, will begin their formal training for the
Channel swim a week after swimming season ends, in March
2011. They plan to work up to swimming more than 30,000 yards
(about 17 miles) per day.
the women are confident. “Simply put, we
are fast enough,” says
Reim. “I know we can do it.”
“We’re both designed to swim long-distance,” notes Bradley. “We can just keep
Most important to the duo is
the encouragement from their communities, both at home and
at Smith. “It’s the support
that keeps me sure that we can do it,” reflects
Reim. “My mom, without any real knowledge of the technical
side of swimming, gave me her full support, trusting in my
drive as a swimmer.”
“The enthusiasm from our coach and our teammates is so important,” says Bradley. “It
keeps us excited.”
The swimmers recognize that
their Channel swim will be among the events that define their
lives. “I know that it will
permanently change how I look at the interconnectedness of
physical and mental challenges,” says Reim.
“It will be one of the biggest accomplishments of my life,” adds Bradley.