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"Swim the Salish Seas" and other ideas for the future of SwimBowen

SwimBowen raised over $30,000 this summer and that could just be the beginning.
Spectators watch for the first swimmers to return from their tour around Tunstall Bay during SwimBowen in July.

While on a recent holiday in Desolation Sound we stopped in at Squirrel Cove General Store on Cortes Island.  I spied a donation can for a local gentleman enduring cancer treatment and my heart broke a little considering what we had just accomplished here on Bowen. I couldn’t help but think the Gulf Islands and beyond could each have their own version of SwimBowen to help carry community members through cancer treatment.  

SwimCortes, SwimQuadra, SwimHornby could each have their own event. It could be the “Swim the Salish Sea Series!” These were my holiday thoughts. And yes, I am a little obsessed. But for now, our team has enough work with the SwimBowen 2018 wrap-up, brainstorming for the 2019 event and fine-tuning the bursary application process. Lots to do! 

I am thrilled to announce several new appointments to the SwimBowen board: Ellen White has taken over from Quinn Buchanan as treasurer (thank you Quinn for getting us started!), Deb Thomson is our new secretary, and Kate Coffey has joined as a director.  Along with Katherine Gish, Jillian Walker, Wendy Alexander, Cathy Robertson, Leah Cline and me, this team is committed to launching an annual SwimBowen event. We will build and care for our fund and ensure the fair, thoughtful and confidential distribution of the SwimBowen bursary.

This year’s event went remarkably well considering it was our first time!  This was thanks to enthusiastic swimmers, an army of volunteers, donors and sponsors, a very talented organizing team pulling out the stops to ensure the event went smoothly, including Jillian Walker’s social media magic and registration prowess, our water marshal superheroes, and delicious food – Frank of Soup Fairy fame we love you!  To top it off, Mother Nature kindly gifted us with perfect weather conditions. Because of Tristan Deggan (who jumped in the morning of the event as our scheduled photographer was ill) and Jason Wilde, the inaugural event is superbly captured and expertly sets up next year’s promotion. Priceless.

Some swimmers commented that the sighting buoys were not large enough.  We hope to fix this next year with large sighting buoys for the entire course.  As well, participants wondered why there was no sound amplification. This was a conscious decision out of respect for a Bowen neighbour hosting their daughter’s wedding in in the next bay. 

The SwimBowen Society raised a stunning $31,000! Bursaries will be available beginning October 15 to Bowen Island residents in active cancer treatment.  An application will be available online outlining eligibility along with clear guidelines and instructions as to how to complete the form. Our bursary fund sub-committee (Leah Cline, Kate Coffey, Cathy Robertson, Wendy Alexander) will meet every six weeks to ensure that we respond to applications in a timely manner.  Curious about the mechanics of the SwimBowen fund? Or know a Bowen Island resident in cancer treatment or who was recently diagnosed who would benefit from the bursary? Check out our detailed fund distribution document at  

Mark your calendars!  

SwimBowen 2019 is scheduled for Saturday, July 20 with registration opening spring 2019. Stay tuned for upcoming SwimBowen Bursary news and 2019 planning on our Facebook page or drop me a line at or call me at 604-947-9601 if you have questions or comments.