Nicolas Knap - Traversée L'Isle-aux-Coudres

Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive to Isle-aux-Coudres

4 km (2.5 miles)

0 hours, 45 minutes on 15 August 2020

Observed and documented by Paul Boisvert and Nancy Thibault



  • Name: Nicolas Knap
  • Gender: male
  • Age on swim date: 47
  • Nationality: Canada
  • Resides: Quebec City, Quebec

Support Personnel

  • Nancy Thibault - photos, videos
  • Paul Boisvert - data, observation
  • Francois-Bernard Tremblay - feeding, coaching
  • Marc Harvey - pilot (Le Marsouin)
  • Daniel Tremblay - pilot (UMA17 escort boat)
  • Guy Lapointe - pilot (UMA17 security boat)

Support Boats

  • Le Marsouin
    • Steel cruiser
    • Length = 30 ft.
    • 120 HP diesel engine
    • Speed 8.5 knots.
    • GPS-Electronic chart / Radar / Depth sounder / VHF / Compass.
  • UMA17 ​(4 seasons lifeboat) Escort boat
  • UMA17 (4 seasons lifeboat) Security boat

Port: Isle-aux-Coudres

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: One swim cap, one swim suit (Speedo Fastskin II Male Jammer), goggles, bag balm.

Route Definition

  • Body of Water: Saint Lawrence River
  • Route Type: one-way
  • Start Location: St-Joseph-de-la-Rive Beach (47.450587, -70.365682)
  • Finish Location: Isle-aux-Coudres harbor (47.420778, -70.390848)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 4 km (2.5 miles) (map)


See Swimmer Statement

Swim Data

  • Start: 15 August 2020, 12:16 (Eastern Daylight, America/Toronto, UTC4).
  • Finish: 15 August 2020, 13:00
  • Elapsed: 0 hours, 45 minutes, 24 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (C) 16 17
Air Temp (C) 21 21
Wind (kph) 30 40

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 2.5 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot

Nutrition: Maxim, every 15 minutes

Observer Log

Data courtesy St. Lawrence Global Observatory:


La Grande Traversée … à la nage !
Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive à l’Isle-aux-Coudres Québec - Canada
15 août 2020

What inspired you to do this swim?

I lived for 3 years in the Charlevoix area (60 minutes north-east to Quebec city). I took the ferryboat almost every day for work or leisure. I always thought it could be a place to swim across the St-Lawrence River. I always said to myself that it was a crossing to be made. At this time of my life I had not started swimming in open water again. It has been almost 14 years since I retired from high performance sport and open water swimming. The water temperature scared me and the currents speed too. It was on my to-do list in my dream of open water swims.

Due to COVID-19 all activities and events were cancelled in Quebec Province, Canada and all around the world. 3 months without sports and swim. When the swimming pools opened, it was only possible to swim for 50 minutes. After a month of swimming without goals, no competitions, it was boring. I decided to check my dream to-do list. At the time it was evidence that I had to swim across the St-Lawrence river from Saint-Joseph-de-la-Rive to Isle-aux-Coudres (shorter distance 2,5 km).

I did some research to find out if a swimmer had passed through this place. Only one name appeared: Jacques Amyot (1st Canadian to cross the lac St-Jean and the English Channel). I contacted a historian and swimming friends who knew Jacques Amyot to find out if he had crossed this place. Everyone was telling me no. I found newspaper articles that say he swam in the same place but did not hit the island.

I found people who were able to tell me that Jacques swam to Isle-aux-Coudres in the 60’s but he never set foot on the island’s soil. Local people told me he swam until 300-400 feet to the peer and never touched and he decided to follow another direction (Baie-Saint-Paul) and after a few minutes he retired from water due to currents and tides.

I decided to reproduce this epic open water adventure and to pay tribute to this man.

Please describe how you planned for the swim.

The project starts on July 5th, 2020.

I decided to contact ​”La Grande Traversée - Ocean​”, ice canoeing specialist who lives at Isle-aux-Coudres to present my project and get support from specialists in navigation in this area. Anie Harvey (CEO) was not convinced of the project. After discussion she was OK to provide me the support of her teammate (Marc Harvey, Dan Tremblay, Guy Lapointe). Marc called me days later with a plan, a route, a date and a time. Marc is a former navigator and a specialist in that field. He has a lot of experience and is also a maritime navigation teacher. Marc asked me one thing: how do you think is your average speed? I told him around 4 km/h. Later he provides me a plan of our route in the tides, curent. He decided to start August 15th, 2020 at 12 h 20. Dan & Guy are experts in ice canoeing and know the river, wind and current. There are also rescue and boat drivers. They drive UMA17 (4 seasons lifeboat).

I coordinated the whole project for the most part. Anie took care of her team and coordinated with Marc the safety and navigation on the river.

I coordinated the roles with my friend’s swimmer who supported me on the crossing: Nancy T. Paul B. & François-Bernard T. I did all communication for media coverage, created my website. I did my training with the support of my last coach when I stopped my OWS professional carreer. 20 years later Olympian former coach, Alain Iacono, 76 y.o. (living in the Guadeloupe french island) help me by distance from July 5th to August 15th, 2020.

I trained alone in a long and short pool and some time in the St-Lawrence River. But in Québec City water is warm (20°C and more). I trained 2 times a day for 8 to 10 km a day. I swam once in the Island area one week before the event and one more time the day before the event. I spent all my time in the pool to develop my speed average.

How did the swim go, generally?

The swim was a real open water swim with cold water, wind, currents, tides and 3-4 feet waves. From start to the finish it was windy, wavy with strong current.

Start: it was difficult to leave the St-Joseph-de-la-Rive beach due to waves, counter currents and eddies. The water was still cold. It tooks to me more than 5 minutes to leave the beach and the pier. My escort boat was flooded with water and waves. Just before I passed the pier I asked a question to my escort guide and I was cold. In the St-Lawrence River, waves come from North-East, back to my left shoulder and butt. I knew I swam fast due to the time and distance provided to me. I always follow the leading boat “Le Marsouin”. Water temperature was around 16°C but at some place under 15°C and some time up to 16°C. The weather was sunny and windy. Near the finish, captain Marc decided to change the direction of my swim because the ferryboat has to stay in place in the harbour due to an emergency. He stayed in place to wait for the paramedic. We had to change direction quickly because of the very powerful currents. I decided to finish on the beach between the 2 piers. The ferry boats and tugboats rang their horn boat and the spectators applauded. Swim duration is 45 minutes 24 sec and 59.

Thank you to photographers Alain Caron, Nancy Thibault, Paul Boisert and François Bernard Tremblay.

Did you face any unanticipated challenges?

Yes, of course. It was not a flat water, 3-4 feet waves, 2 knots current, wind 30 to 40 knots, water temperature. Changing direction at the end of the swim. I was cold at the beginning of the swim.


Click to enlarge.



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