Nova Scotia

Big Swim makes splash in Nova Scotia for first time

The Big Swim was held in Nova Scotia for the first time on Sunday. The charity event raises money for Brigadoon Village in the Annapolis Valley.

Past events have been held between New Brunswick and P.E.I. across the Northumberland Strait

Big Swim participants set off at 8 a.m. (Tracy Ashley/GIVETOLIVE)

Participants in the Big Swim took to the water of Bras d'Or Lake on Sunday.

It marks the first time in its 10-year-history the charity event has been held in Nova Scotia. 

There was no Big Swim last year but the previous eight swims crossed the Northumberland Strait between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. 

GIVETOLIVE, the non-profit organization that organizes the event, decided to hold all four of its charity events in Nova Scotia for the first time this year after the pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2020 swim.

This year, 53 swimmers and kayakers signed up to complete eight-kilometre and 12-kilometre loops to raise money for Brigadoon Village — a non-profit pediatric medical camp facility on Aylesford Lake in the Annapolis Valley.

Swimmers are paired with kayakers, often a family member, who provide support along the route.

Andrew Thalheimer swam the previous route in 2018 and his 14-year-old son, NIcholas, provided support this year. (Tracy Ashley/GIVETOLIVE)

Swimmer Andrew Thalheimer and his 14-year-old son, Nicholas Thalheimer-Wells, are one such pair. 

Speaking in advance of the 8 a.m. start time at Inverary Resort in Baddeck, Thalheimer said it was an exciting new venue.

He said when he swam the race on the previous route he competed with tides and currents and ended up swimming 23 kilometres.

"I guess the bigger challenge is that we don't necessarily see our destination at the moment, whereas when we're crossing the strait we could see P.E.I.," Thalheimer said.

"But we're hoping our kayakers can see the buoys we're supposed to go to and direct us accordingly."

Swimmers and their support kayakers are shown on the shore before the 8 a.m. start. (Tracy Ashley/GIVETOLIVE)

Thalheimer's son will be providing kayak support for him. His fundraising effort is part of his Chief Scout project.

Thalheimer-Wells said they have trained a couple of times, describing the experience as "pretty fun."

He said his primary role during the swim is ensuring his father's safety.

"If he gets sick, I can call in the other boats and tell them to pick him out of the water if he needs help," he said.