A Newfoundlander with a penchant for open-water swimming has completed a journey from this province’s shores to foreign land – albeit through a 7.5-kilometre swim.
Jordan Wood, who is from Grand Bank and now lives in San Francisco, swam from Little Green Islands to the island of St-Pierre in approximately 2 1/2 hours on Aug. 9.
A swim coach in the coastal California city, Wood has previously taken part in open-water swims from the infamous Alcatraz Island in San Francisco and as part of a relay across the English Channel.
“A couple of years ago I started looking at swims I could do in my home province,” said Wood, who hopes to help attract other open-water swimmers to the province though his own experience.
His interest in open-water swimming developed through his involvement in the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco, an athletics club that organizes open-water swims. Wood was a member of the Southern Sharks Swim Club in the Grand Bank-Fortune area growing up and has undergone multiple shoulder surgeries. The cold water helps his shoulder as he swims.
“San Francisco has a lot of open-water swimmers who do extreme swimming events around the world. I started (thinking), ‘Well, if people want to travel to England or Spain to do swims, why wouldn’t they come to Newfoundland?'”
With the French islands making up St-Pierre-Miquelon so close to his hometown on the Burin Peninsula, Wood began to consider the possibility of swimming to the island of St-Pierre (or Ile de Saint-Pierre).
Already home for the Grand Bank Summer Festival, Wood took a trip to St-Pierre-Miquelon and was put in touch with local open water swimmer Denise Téletchéa-Urdanabia.
“She swam pretty much around all of St-Pierre-Miquelon on her own,” said Wood.
According to Wood, Téletchéa-Urdanabia believed his proposed swim from Little Green Islands to St-Pierre Island was feasible and helped him find a person with a boat willing to take him to the islands.
“A lot of people in St-Pierre wouldn’t take us out or thought it was kind of crazy,” he said.
Warm water The water was relatively warm at approximately 16 C.
“When I was a kid, I could remember it never really got warmer than 14 C, so with global warming, the water down there is a very turquoise colour,” said Wood.
He left Little Green Islands at 7:30 a.m. Friday, with the boat that initially brought him there travelling alongside Wood to offer support. He took food breaks every 30 minutes.
It also provided him with visible protection from other vessels that could cross his path. The ferry from Fortune to St-Pierre-Miquelon passed Wood at one point, and he spotted people on the ferry waving at him as he continued his swim.
He encountered grey seals during his swim and had a humpback whale swim under him at one point.
“I’ve had lot of seals swim under me in California,” said Wood. “A lot of people in St-Pierre were telling me how they’ve been catching a lot of sharks that are in the area now because the water is warm.