July 16, 2024

Seekonk Native Swims English Channel

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Seekonk native Maribeth Robertson realized the achievement of a lifetime last August when she swam the English Channel.

Robertson, who was a champion swimmer at Seekonk High School, now lives in Connecticut with her husband and children.

Robertson opted not to swim collegiately in favor of obtaining an undergraduate degree from Brown University and then a master’s in special education from Providence College.

For three consecutive years, Robertson participated in St. Vincent’s Swim Across The Sound, an annual 15 and a half mile swim from Port Jefferson, New York to Bridgeport. The event raises money for patients battling cancer at Hartford Healthcare’s St. Vincent Medical Center.

 “I’m a very nervous person, I’m anxious about everything,” Robertson explained. “When I was a child, I was afraid to swim in the ocean if I couldn’t see the bottom. I was terrified.”

The opportunity to swim the English Channel proved irresistible, Robertson noted: “I just wanted to prove myself that I could do something hard and amazing.”

A person who had a major impact on Robertson’s life was her friend and mentor Marcy McDonald, who coached Robertson’s oldest son at Laurel East Hartford YMCA. McDonald is a famous open water swimmer, having swam the English Channel 18 times.

It took Robertson almost 13 and a half hours to complete the grueling swim.

“From point to point, it’s about 21 miles,” Robertson said. “It wasn’t a horrible day, it wasn’t the easiest day. I definitely was pushed a bit. I was really frustrated because for several hours I was just swimming parallel to the coast of France. The current really does push you a lot. I was exhausted and nauseous the whole time.”

Robertson was relieved when she completed the swim.

“(Tom), my husband, actually got to swim into shore with me,” Robertson continued. “They had him swim the last 50 meters with me, just to make sure that I got in safe. I was just so happy and I couldn’t wait to get back to the boat and call my (children) and my parents. It was an incredible feeling.”

Robertson is considering participating in other major swimming events in the future. A return to England is also a possibility.

“It was such a beautiful place to be. You have the White Cliffs of Dover there and it’s just so beautiful. It’s peaceful. It’s just you and the water. Someday I’ll go back,” she added.

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