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Latest record ‘means the most’ to storied 66 year old swimmer from Westbrook

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One by one, Pat Gallant-Charette is checking off her open-water swimming bucket list. And her most recent accomplishment was a big one.On Saturday, Gallant-Charette, a 66-year-old grandmother of three from Westbrook, became the oldest female to swim the English Channel. She left Dover, England, at 4:55 a.m. and landed on a small sandy beach near the white cliffs of Cap Blanc in France nearly 18 hours later. The shortest distance across the channel is 21 miles, but Gallant-Charette likely swam farther while coping with ocean currents.“I’m not going to lie, this one means a lot to me,” Gallant-Charette said Tuesday in a phone call from Dover. “This is my fifth record, and of all of them, this one means the most to me.”SPORTS Posted June 20 Updated June 22 INCREASE FONT SIZEResize FontLatest record ‘means the most’ to storied 66-year-old swimmer from WestbrookGrandmother Pat Gallant-Charette becomes the oldest woman to cross the English Channel, capping the emotional journey with a dedication to her deceased younger brother.BY MIKE LOWESTAFF WRITERShare facebook tweet email print Comment 7 CommentsOne by one, Pat Gallant-Charette is checking off her open-water swimming bucket list. And her most recent accomplishment was a big one.On Saturday, Gallant-Charette, a 66-year-old grandmother of three from Westbrook, became the oldest female to swim the English Channel. She left Dover, England, at 4:55 a.m. and landed on a small sandy beach near the white cliffs of Cap Blanc in France nearly 18 hours later. The shortest distance across the channel is 21 miles, but Gallant-Charette likely swam farther while coping with ocean currents.“I’m not going to lie, this one means a lot to me,” Gallant-Charette said Tuesday in a phone call from Dover. “This is my fifth record, and of all of them, this one means the most to me.”Her family knows exactly what she means.“To my mother, this was the Daytona 500, the Stanley Cup and the Super Bowl,” said her daughter, Sarah Charette, who also lives in Westbrook. “She always wanted the record for the English Channel. To her, this is the most prestigious swim.”It meant more to Gallant-Charette for another reason – her son Tom was there with her. He was on the boat next to her, counting strokes, encouraging her. Tom got his mother into open-water swimming when he persuaded her to compete in the 2.4-mile Peaks to Portland race in 1997 to honor the memory of her younger brother, Robbie, who died at age 34.It was heart-warming to have him there,” Gallant-Charette said of her son. “For 18 hours he was there, watching me swim. That’s like watching paint dry. But he never left my side.”FIFTH RECORD TO BE CHALLENGEDThe English Channel crossing is Gallant-Charette’s fifth open-water record. The retired nurse also is the oldest woman to swim the Tsugaru Strait in Japan, the North Channel between Northern Ireland and Scotland, and the Molokai Channel in Hawaii. Gallant-Charette, who also swam the Strait of Gibraltar, had also set the record for the Catalina Channel in California in 2011 at age 60. Carol Schumacher Hayden broke that record on Sept. 27, 2016, at age 66.

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