A Tough Tempestuous Traversée, Grande-Anse à Paspébiac

Courtesy of KAATSU Global, Huntington Beach, California.

The Traversée Grande-Anse à Paspébiac was a briefly run professional marathon swim in the 1970s and 1980s.

Starting in the Ville de Paspébiac in Québec, the course stretched 22.5 km between New Brunswick and Grande Anse in eastern Canada across the Chaleur Bay.

The race is like an eastern, competitive version of the 16.8 km cross-border swim of Strait of Juan de Fuca between Vancouver Island in British Columbia and Olympic Peninsula in the state of Washington: cold and tempestuous,” said Steven Munatones.

Nasser ElShazly, an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honor Swimmer (one of four in the 1982 race) recalled the experience, “It was a very hard swim – not because of the distance – but we always had to swim against big waves, strong currents, and strong winds in very cold saltwater across the Baie des Chaleurs. You can’t find all those elements together in one race – plus there were big whales feeding [along the course].”

In 1976, American Jon Erikson completed the inaugural crossing Grand Anse to Paspébiac in 11.6°F water in 8 hours 46 minutes while the 41-year-old Canadian Rejean Lacoursiere did not finish. A year later, Erikson completed a double crossing of Chaleur Bay in 16 hours 4 minutes.

It took a cold-water specialist to win the tough swim. In 1982, Claudio Plit of Argentina won the Traversée Grande-Anse à Paspébiac breaking 8 hours:

1982 Traversée Grande-Anse à Paspébiac Race Results:
1. Claudio Plit (Argentina) 7 hours 59 minutes 58 seconds
2. James Kegley (USA) 8 hours 5 minutes 22 seconds
3. Paul Asmuth (USA) 8 hours 20 minutes 34 seconds
4. Nasser ElShazly (Egypt) 9 hours 2 minutes 2 seconds
5. Robert Lachance (Canada) DNF after 7 hours
6. Denise Arbour (Canada) DNF after 8 hours 30 minutes

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