Two Manitoban triathletes proved they're definitely qualified to swim in the deep end Saturday.
While many relaxed at their cottages for the weekend, Taren Gesell and Patrick Peacock strapped on wetsuits to swim laps for more than seven hours, covering a 27-kilometre stretch.
Gesell had been training a year for his big swim, which started from the docks in Lac du Bonnet, wound down the Winnipeg River and circled back to Granite Hills golf course. On Saturday morning his friend Peacock, a skilled triathlete who has swum across Lake Winnipeg in summers past, spontaneously decided to join in.
"It's really nice to have somebody that shares the suffering. It's a little bit less lonely that way," Gesell joked.
Last August, while he was standing on a dock with friends in Lac du Bonnet, Gesell contemplated a big goal he could set for himself in the coming year. That is when Taren's Big Swim (#TarensBigSwim on Twitter) was born.
"In my early 20s, I got really out of shape and overweight — I weighed about 215 pounds at one point. And over the last eight years or so, I've slowly got healthier and taken up triathlon and running," Gesell said.
Now 31, Gesell said the big swim was a satisfying accomplishment that shows how far he has come.
"I kind of wanted to do a very big challenge to mark being healthy and see what I was capable of. I was actually (afraid of the water) even as a kid, and up until not too long ago."
Having swum 300 kilometres since January — an average of 15 kilometres per week — it's safe to say Gesell overcame his fear.
"It wasn't as painful as I thought, but it was very draining throughout. It was just an overall level of constant tiredness," Gesell said. "It probably won't sink in, what we just did, for a few days."