I celebrated Canada Day today the same way I always celebrate Canada Day -- by waking up at the crack of dawn and risking hypothermia. Who knew it would become a tradition?
For the past several years, I’ve competed in the Canada Day Challenge with some friends from my swim team. The "challenge" is a four-kilometre swim around Sasamat Lake in Port Moody. In theory, swimming around a lake is a fun, and very Canadian, thing to do in the summer.
Swimming around a lake when it still feels like winter out (hello, Toronto? stop hogging all the good weather) is not such a fun, summery thing to do. The Arctic-like air temperature wasn’t so bad once we started swimming. What really hurt was standing chest-deep in ice water trying to sing O Canada through chattering teeth and blue lips before the race started.
Turns out it was a good thing it was so cold and overcast. Without the sun in my eyes, I was actually able to see the large orange buoys and didn’t veer wildly off course like I normally do.
Because it was so cold, I was forced to swim the entire four kilometres at a fast pace to stay warm. I ended up setting a personal record with a time of one hour and two minutes. Although I placed third in my age group, I still got my ass kicked by a bunch of teenage Olympic wannabes.
Still, I wouldn’t want to celebrate Canada Day any other way. There’s no better place than the middle of a lake to reflect on how lucky we are to live in such a tolerant, beautiful country. Happy birthday, Canada!