On Wednesday, Jill (Taylor) Leon managed to complete a 20.5 km swim across the Northumberland Strait in Canada. It was the encouragement from her friends and family that provided her with the much needed push to accomplish the swim. The 57-year-old was already more than midway through her crossing from Caribou, N.S. to Wood Islands when she started to doubt her abilities and whether or not she would be able to finish what she had set out to do.

“It got really cold in the middle and I thought ‘oh-oh, am I going to be in trouble here? But then I looked up and could see everybody, from quite far out and I was like, ‘I just gotta. I just got to dig deep and make it’,” she stated in an interview with The Guardian. In all, it took her about nine hours and 45 minutes before she finally reached the end point. When she was done, it was already in the evening just before 6pm. However, she had the honour and glory of being the first ever person to succeed or even attempt the swim between the two provinces along the Northumberland Ferries Ltd. route.

Once she got onto the shore, there were waves of people cheering and clapping for her. “Everything she does is 200 per cent. She’s been dedicated in everything she’s done since she was young,” said Dianne MacDonald, her proud sister who watched on. Aside from having a sore shoulder, Jill mentioned that she felt “super” and “incredible” after finishing.

Jill also managed to get some support from the ferries that were crossing by throughout the day. “We salute Jill’s remarkable achievement which has to rank as one of the foremost athletic accomplishments in P.E.I. history. Once again,  Jill has shown that Wood Islands/Caribou is the way to go,” stated Mark MacDonald,  chairman and CEO of Northumberland Ferries Limited. Jill was also not alone in her swim as she had assistance from Captain Troy Clements, who captained the support boat, and Leon’s husband, Joshua Leon.

According to research, no one had attempted this swim before. Jill felt that perhaps it was the strong currents in the area that deter them. At the same time, she was aware that the first person to cross from Cape Tormentine N.B., to Borden P.E.I. was a woman back in 1951. “I thought, you know really a woman should be the first to do this crossing (too). That’s sort of neat, to have both crossings pioneered by women,” she explained. For the full story, you can read it here.

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