Montrealer swims between 5 continents

Normand Piché set out on his expedition Aug. 24, and returned to Montreal after completing his journey last week.

Normand Piché said the expedition was an emotional journey

Normand Piché has been swimming since he was seven years old. (courtesy Annie-Claude Roberge)

Normand Piché has completed an ambitious goal: swimming between five continents.

The 45-year-old Montrealer left his home city on Aug. 24, returning after completing his journey just last week.

"I am passionate about swimming. I love the water, it's my element. I've been swimming since I was seven years old," said Piché.

He started out by crossing the Bering strait between the U.S. and Russia and, while it only takes two hours, the temperature was about four degrees.

Beyond the temperature, the experience was memorable in other ways.

"I had a whale 50 metres from me when I was swimming," he told CBC's Homerun.

Normand Piché plans to tour schools and share his experience. (courtesy Annie-Claude Roberge)

Team effort

Piché swam alongside a team, with three members in a boat and another monitoring his progress from a kayak.

Following that, he swam for eight hours between Papua and Indonesia, 20 kilometres across the Strait of Gibraltar between Spain and Morocco, and 25 more through the Red Sea between Egypt and Jordan.

Crossing the Aegean Sea was by far the most complicated, says Piché, who cited problems with visas and documentation. But he also says he felt an emotional resonance, swimming through the "migrant corridor."

"That was pretty emotional for me," he said. "Thousands of people drown in those waters. It was terrible for me to swim in that water."

Piché now plans to tour Quebec schools and share his experience and hopefully inspire others.

"I want to stimulate people to find their dreams, make it happen, to go to reach their full potential."