Westbrook’s Gallant-Charette up for world award

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Westbrook resident and native Pat Gallant-Charette has been nominated for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year award.

WESTBROOK — Swimming is usually a solo sport, but Pat Gallant-Charette needs the help of the community if she’s going to win her next honor.

Gallant-Charette, a Westbrook resident and world champion swimmer, has been nominated for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year award. Anyone can vote online in the contest and the winner will be announced Jan. 1.

“Just being nominated is an honor, but if anyone wants to vote that’d be great,” she said.

Gallant-Charette, 66, didn’t start her swimming career until she was 48 years old. Despite her late start, she’s made a name for herself and has been nominated for the woman of the year award four times, in 2011, 2012, 2016 and this year. 

The retired nurse said all 12 of the nominees, who hail from Great Britain, Italy, Australia, Brazil, Russia, France, Germany and the U.S., “are so deserving” of the award. She said she thinks she has a shot at winning this year because of her recent accomplishments.

“This time where I got three world records in four months, that brought my status up,” she said.

Gallant-Charette became the oldest woman to complete three major swims in the past year: the Molokai Channel in May, the English Channel in June, and Lake Ontario in August. She has been recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records for her English Channel swim, which will be published in the 2018 book.

“I never thought my swimming career would take me in this direction, never in a million years,” she said.

Gallant-Charette said she’s grateful the people she’s met through swimming have encouraged her to keep going. She said swimming is a lifelong sport and that she plans to continue for as a long as she can.

“As I get older people think I’m going to retire soon, but the swim community knows I have no intention to,” she said. “It’s a very supportive community.”

Within the next year Gallant-Charette plans to swim the 28-mile 20 Bridges Swim, formerly called the Manhattan Island Swim. She’s also working on completing the Still Water Eight challenge, which her Lake Ontario swim was included in. Also in the challenge is Loch Ness in Scotland, which she plans to swim next year along with a handful of other big swims.

Gallant-Charette said she hopes her story motivates other people, no matter their age, to try new things if they have an interest or curiosity.

“I hope people realize that it’s not over until it’s over,” she said. “They should get out there and try it cause it could take you down a road you never expected.”

If she’s named the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year, Gallant-Charette said it will show people that age doesn’t matter.

“It’d be so great if I won because it would show that a woman my age, or a person of any age, can accomplish anything they want,” she said. “But if I don’t win I’m just going to keep pursuing this great passion in my life.”

To vote, go to worldopenwaterswimmingassociation.com.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Westbrook resident and native Pat Gallant-Charette has been nominated for the 2017 World Open Water Swimming Woman of the Year award.

This is the fourth time Pat Gallant-Charette has been nominated for the award, which is won by a popular vote. 

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