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When Bonnie swam 1200 metres for the first time in April 2016 she couldn’t believe it. Looking back at her decision to learn to swim, and her progress since that day, Bonnie realized how far she had come.

She went from being scared of the water to swimming 48 pool lengths — the equivalent to swimming around the Apple Bowl track three times — which, for the non-swimmers out there — is HARD. It takes a lot of effort and skill to master long distance swimming.


Bonnie was amazed by her own progress. With the help of her YMCA swim coach, Torrie Zimmerman, Bonnie started her training in January 2016 keeping a swim journal to track her progress along the way. Each month Torrie would assign goals for Bonnie and Bonnie would diligently work at reaching them.

“It worked well for me,” explains Bonnie. “I am a goal oriented person and am always striving for the next thing.”

Her goals were to swim 750 metres — or 30 lengths — by the end of January, 900 metres by the end of February, and 1000 metres by end of March. She met her first goal, fell short of her second and met her March goal by Easter Monday.

“I can’t count the number of times I wanted to give up — all the times I thought ‘I can’t do this’,” Bonnie explains. “I still feel that way sometimes.”

Despite the day-to-day challenges, Bonnie’s biggest fear remains trying to conquer the front crawl. “When I get my face in the water I immediately feel anxiety,” she says. “I am afraid that when I turn my face, maybe I won’t get a good enough breath.”

However, Bonnie hasn’t let her fear hold her back. She finds what works for her and follows Torrie’s advice to take it one chunk at a time.

“I just push to train more,” Bonnie says. “I know that the only way to reach my goal is to work at it.”

To her surprise, she is now at the 2100 metre mark, which is the distance it takes to swim across Okanagan Lake. Bonnie found it challenging to get past 1200 metres but Torrie believed she could do it. Near the end of May Torrie told Bonnie to block out two hours to do the full 2100 metres and Bonnie did it! She was shocked, but she reached her goal.

“It was really emotional,” says Bonnie. “I followed Torrie’s advice and took it one step at a time, counting ten lengths, then another ten and just didn’t stop.”


Bonnie will now use the last leg of her training leading up to July 16’s swim to practice her technique and become more familiar with the lake — which she is realizing is quite different from the comforts of swimming in an indoor pool. She is feeling positive and proud of her progress.

Regardless of what happens in the Interior Savings Across the Lake Swim, Bonnie has already succeeded. She has learned how to swim and has the tools needed to help her children if they were distressed in the water. Bonnie is focusing on her health and her accomplishment shows what she can overcome if she puts her mind to it.

“I am lucky to have such a supportive family and Y community to help get me though,” says Bonnie.

Watch for updates as we follow Bonnie’s journey and as she prepares to swim across Okanagan Lake in the Interior Savings Across the Lake Swim this July. Read the first part of her story here.

UPDATE: Read Part three of Bonnie's story here: