Jessi Harewicz - Around Thormanby Island

Around Thormanby Island

15.9 km (9.9 miles)

6 hours, 42 minutes on 4 May 2019

Observed and documented by Jazmine Bahr

First circumnavigation swim of Thormanby Island



  • Name: Jessi Harewicz
  • Gender: female
  • Age on swim date: 36
  • Nationality: Canada
  • Resides: Vancouter, British Columbia

Support Personnel

  • John Dafoe - pilot
  • Richard Harewicz - kayaker, feeder
  • Jazmine Bahr - observer

Escort Vessel: Greenling (Half Moon Bay)

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: swimsuit, goggles, cap, Desitin

Route Definition

Clockwise circumnavigation of Thormanby Island

  • Body of Water: Salish Sea
  • Route Type: circumnavigation
  • Start & Finish Location: Derby Point (49.509133, -123.979139)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 15.9 km (9.9 miles)

Swim Data

  • Start: 4 May 2019, 10:48 (America/Vancouver, UTC-7).
  • Finish: 4 May 2019, 17:30
  • Elapsed: 6 hours, 42 minutes.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 12.7 14
Air Temp (C) 11 16
Wind (knots) 0 8

GPS Track

Download raw data (CSV).

Nutrition: Every 30 min: 250ml water, gel, 1 piece peanut butter & jam roll

Observer Log

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On Saturday, May 4th 2019 at 10:48 am I was assigned the job of charting for Jessi Harewicz as she completed marathon swim around Thormanby Island to train for Manhattan Island.

We began in Derby Point. Here we saw a few ravens as Jessi’s dad Richard put Vaseline on her and covered her skin in zinc as it was a cloudy day with the sun shining through which could lead to a burn. She started her swim at Derby Point and began her swim for the second time around the island. Jessi in the first hour had gotten stung by a jellyfish, in which she replied “the sting doesn’t feel so bad in the cold water.”

For the first half of the swim the current was 2.7 nautical miles, which was giving Jessi double the speed. When we turned a corner after pirate rock the wind, which was once calm had picked up to 10 kt. Richard in his kayak and Jessi were able to stay much closer to shoreline through this stretch than we were in the boat due to water depth. In this part of the swim there were large swells and multiple seals that were curious and following Jessi for about an hour or more.

Her stroke rate was very consistent through the swim ranging from 66 to 72, she appeared strong and her endurance was evident. Her feeding times during the swim were on track 10 to the hour and 20 after the hour and she was extremely present and vocal throughout the journey.

It was extremely evident that Jessi had put in the work and effort to train, as the swim was very well prepared for. She had prepared by cold-water swimming so she was acclimated to the water temperature. During the end of the swim Jessi was excited and had an extra boost that she had saved for the end of her marathon.

We all finished in celebration and it was such an honor to see her finish the swim with grace (a little shivering too) and her ability to analyze the outcome on the way home. Way to go Jessi. The swim was finished in 6 hours and 40 minutes.


by Jessi Harewicz

It all started as a chaotic morning.

We had gotten over to the sunshine coast late the night previous. So I got to sleep in until 7:30 AM. Then we drove to secret Cove to meet John Dafoe. We were out loaded on the boat with all of our gear and kayak in tow by 9:30 AM. Short boat ride over to Thormanby island, Welcome passage. Where are we roped up to a small dock where my dad applied Vaseline and Desitin to my body.

This is the same place we had started a similar swim only two years previous (not documented) as I was preparing for my English channel Crossing in 2017.

This would be the only circumnavigation I have done a second time. This time documented.

But we were running late. I was struggling to work with the brand new spot tracker we had purchased only the day before. On only 6 1/2 hours sleep I was panicking. Trying to figure out the device. I knew John Dafoe had a tracker on his boat as well. Which I was thankful for.

Finally John told us we had to go. Otherwise we would miss the tide change. So I got on the small boat to which he drove only about 3 minutes to the start line. I jumped off carefully making sure I did not wipe any Desitin on the boat. I wanted it all to stay on me! Last time I swam this route I got sunburned so badly. Before of the days I knew about Desitin !

So we were off. Kayak on my right boat on my left, island on my right. Immediately it was a little bit too much boat traffic for my liking.

As I tried to get a pace up I noticed that’s my dad’s rudder on his kayak had not been fully put down yet. I called out. John was quite close with the boat support. So they sorted it out.

A bit of confusion of the kayak being on my right or my left. I honestly preferred for them both to be on my left as the island was on my right.

As we settled into a pace. I warned my father that I would slow down after we got down to southern tip of the island. And switched up north along the Georgia Straight.

I knew I had to make that tide change!

The beautiful rocky shoreline small little cliffs here and there. I was just really worried about the lack of sleep I had had over the last day of working with a film crew. I just hoped that the energy from my food would keep me going. I also barely had anything to eat in the morning. I felt hungry quickly. I asked my dad when the next feed was I think he was in about five minutes or so. So I asked him to get solid food for every feed. As we usually do every other liquid feed with solid. I started seeing the small bays at the end of the island. I started to feel slightly relieved. But it was still quite cold. The sun was starting to come up.

As we turned the lower corner to reveal the Georgia Straits. I was definitely in my element, I was home. This is where it all began 4 years ago. As I jumped off a boat to swim across to Vancouver Island. (Georgia Straits 2016)

As we started up the west side of the island we saw Bertha Island with all of its lazy fat seals sunbathing to my delight! They disguise themselves so well in the gray rocks. But they were definitely checking us out! As my father went closer to take some photos. I noticed some beautiful purple colouring on the rocky shoreline at the waters edge. Starfish ?? Beautiful either way. Then Bam I hit a jellyfish ouch. I didn’t even see it at all. Right shoulder smack. I guess that’s why they’re called a smack, a group of jellyfish. Because you want to smack em!

I kept thinking about that for so long. I wanted an opportunity to tell that joke to my dad at a feeding.

The problem was, he was so on it with the feeding for the swim. I would ask every half an hour for the first 4 hours between 3 and 11 minutes before feeding what the countdown was. My stomach was right on cue for those times. Which then taught me later that when I started feeling hungry feeding was not too far away.

Sometimes I asked for second peanut butter/jam roll sometimes I was OK with 1 piece. But my food combo was right on the mark !

I knew we were coming up to the Sandbar. And again I was so tempted to say something. But finally I could not hold it in any longer.

So I said to my dad; what do we say now dad?

He goes; what?

I say; remember the English Channel. (The last time we were at the spot and the white sandy cliffs reveal themselves and dad said ‘the white cliffs of Dover’.)

So this time as he remembered he said the “white cliffs of Thormanby!”

I laughed a little inside.

I was so pissed at him last time because we had yet to swim the English Channel.

And this time we’re going much stronger. I was training for a shorter swim (20 Bridges). So much more experienced now!

We started having the same problem we did last time we were at this same location. The current was working against us. So we had to separate from John a bit further than that I would’ve liked so we cut in to the shallower water to avoid some currents coming down the George Straits.

But things progressed well. I seem to be doing so well with energy. I was told we were more than halfway done and I think we were at 3 1/2 hours or so.

I could finally see the mainland behind Thormanby Island through the sandbar. As Thormanby island used to be two islands a north and south but was filled in years ago by sand.

I would ask Jasmine my observer how she was. This was her 1st time out with us!

As we progressed further north I was just waiting in patiently till I could see the sand bar itself underneath me. As I’d seen it two years previous. The water was a little murky than I remember it before. Saw a bit sea bush…. but less green this time.

But finally I saw beneath me the beautiful white sand of northern Thormanby.

I saw some beautiful well disguised beige coloured large fish. As we continued we swam right next to a large post that was several stories high. I got some photos. As we rounded the northern tip with another beautiful sandy class. The wind started to pick up. The swells came fast. Before I knew it, I could barely see my father. And he was probably only about 10 m away. I had to start being aware of the timing of my stroke and my breath. I had to breathe mostly to my right.

These are probably some of the biggest swells I’d ever swam in. I saw Buccaneer Bay. 4-5 foot swells. My dad told me to look out for a house. I saw absolutely nothing! I knew where to head anyways. So I just trusted my instincts and kept following him. It was probably about 45 minutes later when I finally could see this house that was disguised in these rocky cliffs the house was literally the same color!

John was having a hard time controlling the boat. But we just kept going. I knew my finishing point was somewhere down there.

But of course as it always happens, the land finally came to me. And as I was thinking I was going to swim a bit longer. They said; you’re almost there, last feed!

What ?? Where did the time go ?

I knew I wanted to get past the GPS location from where I started. So we had agreed to previously, I would swim to the actual rock and touch it. It was so much fun! There is so much water everywhere!

But I could feel my arms were sore from battling the swells. So I still had to swim to the dock. So I can get changed. I reminded my dad about my bags etc. I swam where I met Jasmine with my towel and hats. It was done! 6 hours and 42 minutes later. Not a long swim for me. But man it was beautiful!


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