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B.C. man to take on fraught Molokai Channel for next challenge

Nick Pelletier took a three-day swim across Okanagan Lake last year, but not everybody was impressed by the seemingly gargantuan task.

When all was said and done, at least one YouTuber pointed out that the lack of predators made the challenge less than noteworthy. Rather than getting upset, however, Pelletier has taken the bait with high hopes that he won’t become just that.

The Kelowna, B.C., man is off to the Molokai Channel, or Ka’iwi Channel, a 26-mile-wide body of water between the Hawaiian islands of Oahu and Molokai. The nearly always rough channel is 41.8 kilometeres wide and will be doing his best to avoid the abundance of marine life, including sharks, jellyfish and whales that call the waterway home.

“If you’re coming from lakes and then where it’s just freshwater. you don’t really have to worry about much other than that and the temperature whereas here the water will be warmer, but it’s saltwater, which is a lot rougher on the body and the tongue and everything,” he said Monday.

“It’s going right across the open ocean. So you’ll have currents in the tides and waves and whether it swells and then you also have the sea life to deal with.”

On that latter front, there are some precautions he’ll be packing, like a shark shield. The “electro pulsing device” is off-putting to the apex predator, so he’s hoping that will “help deter the sharks.”

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There may be cause for concern but mostly, Pelletier is excited for what’s to come.

“These are the moments I live for … those rare moments in life when you get to experience being out, testing yourself against Mother Nature,” he said.

“I’m very excited to get back out there because it’s not every day you get to put yourself in these positions and plot logistics that go together.”

At 26 years old, being an ultra-athlete is Pelletier’s bread and butter, though he didn’t start on that path.  As a teen he had his heart set on baseball, but concussions got in the way of him pursuing that sport. Then he was into triathlons but found that others were exceeding his skill level and changed tack.

That’s when he found a love for ultra sports, including running, cycling and swimming.

It took him three attempts before he finished the Okanagan Lake swim, and while that may not have been the plan, it worked out for the best.

“It just made me a lot better swimmer because if I were to squeak it out the first time I wouldn’t have learned all the lessons and done all the things that got me to (this) point,” he said.

“It’s just been trial and error and a good coach helping me with technique and stuff, at the start. Now it’s just basically being like a mindset to keep pushing and pushing and pushing.”

He also has plenty of support.

His parents show up for everything.  His dad was in the sports boat the whole time he swam Okanagan Lake and his mom was the shore contact.  They’ll be with him in Hawaii, too.

“They’ve been a really big support helping me achieve my dreams,” he said.

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