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Mom prepares for 15km charity swim test

Bermudian Holly O'Leary in Canada, where she plans to swim the Northumberland Strait for charity later this month. Photo provided.

A Bermudian in Canada has undertaken an arduous swim of around 15km to support a children’s charity — and to demonstrate that anybody can do it.

The swim, organised by the group Give to Live, is “a challenge for ordinary people to do extraordinary things”, said Holly O’Leary, the wife of Grant Kennedy, former CedarBridge Academy teacher and entrepreneur.

“They actually go looking for people who haven’t swum in 20 years,” said Ms O’Leary, a 42-year-old mother of two who has been training for six months.

On August 16, she will swim across the Northumberland Strait, between Prince Edward Island and the mainland, in support of Camp Brigadoon.

The unique camp is dedicated to bettering the lives of children, youth and families living with a chronic illness, chronic condition or special needs.

Conceding she initially thought the long swim would be crazy to undertake, Ms O’Leary came to believe that anyone could do it.

“When I started training on March 1, I couldn’t even swim ten laps. I’ve come on a long journey.”

Despite an old shoulder injury and a bad lower back, she recently swam just under 10km — the first time she knew that she was able for the challenge.

The swim will stand as an example to daughters Rowan Kennedy, 11, and Taryn Kennedy, 8.

Volunteers sign up for a minimum of $1,000 raised, to cover the cost of a week in Camp Brigadoom. Ms O’Leary’s goal is $4,000.

The distance is formidable, but the Northumberland Strait is known for its warm waters during the summer, and kayaker Robert Pealing will be her support out on the water.

This year’s big swim has 54 volunteers, ranging in age from 12 to 70.

Brigadoon is the only camp in Canada that can provide the experience to youngsters with such a breadth of conditions.

Ms O’Leary said she had been heartened to learn that Bermudian children could potentially qualify for the camp.

“If they have spaces, they do open it up to others — and they really are unique camps,” she said.