St. Lawrence River, QC - Heidi Levasseur
My watermark is the St Lawrence River in Quebec City.
Next year I will be attempting to swim across the Atlantic Ocean and become the first woman to ever cross the Atlantic.
I’ve always been a long distance swimmer, I started swimming very young and joined a club at around three years old. I swam for a couple of years in competitions then one day my coach asked if I wanted to try a long distance swim, I tried and won. Then I kept competing in bigger and longer races, which leads me to this extraordinary swim I will be attempting.
I’ve always been comfortable swimming in pools, and the transition to open water was a lot easier than people would assume. I love the constant movement and adjustment of my body against the waves. It's a revelation when I swim outside, it’s so different and beautiful and at this point, it has connected me to water much deeper than it was in the pool.
But throughout my life, I’ve always felt a connection to the St Lawrence River because I was born in Quebec City and the river is connected to the city as Toronto is part of Lake Ontario. So I’ve lived really close to the river most of my life, even if I have moved afterward.
I swam three times from Montreal to Quebec city, and then once from Quebec to Matane. But one particular swim I remember was in 2011 I was swimming from Quebec to Matane, which is over 300km so about a two-week swim. One day we couldn’t swim because the water conditions were so chirpy and windy. The tide was so bad we decided to wait for the next tide which was at night. So at night, I swam to cover the distance, but it was just so beautiful because at night you couldn’t see very much. All I could see was the vessel following me from behind with the spotlight, besides that pitch blackness shrouded us.
It was very scary at the start but then I realized it was just me and the water. The only sound I could hear was the sound of the water, my arms rolling and it was an experience of harmony and peace. And then a couple of days later it was quite the opposite but what was interesting was I could see different wildlife. I saw whales, seals and different kinds of birds. I got very close to nature, I felt connected to my surroundings even though I couldn’t see everything, I could just see part of it. I realized how big it all was.
After doing so many swims one thing that I’ve seen that concerns me has been the quality of the water. I have even refused to do certain swims because I was scared of the water pollution, quality, and condition.It’s a shame that I can’t necessarily choose to go in the water anywhere, so this is quite a worry. That's why I am talking to more and more people about water more than ever because we all can make an impact to stop pollution affecting our waters.
I’ve been personally affected by the effects of pollution in water specifically back in 2010 from my first swim from Montreal to Quebec. On my third day I was swimming and got a bacteria infection, and at night I had stomach and dietary problems and had to go to the hospital.
I realized that firstly I am not invincible and secondly water is very important. We take it granted because we turn on a tap and it’s just there. But we couldn’t just go to the river and get some water, that is a big issue.
But in crossing the Atlantic I want to be able to go beyond my physical and mental limits. But I also want to leave a message to people. I want people to realize their dream. This world is filled with stars that want to shine and realize their dreams individually but also together to make a more brilliant and brighter world.
People always ask me what my favorite thing about swimming is and I tell them it's the feeling of being in harmony I get that is unparalleled. To feel connected with nature, connected with my environment and to feel that everything is possible.