Quilters Share Their Passion For The Open Water

Quilters Share Their Passion For The Open Water

An international group of quilters are creating a special memorial quilt for Fran Crippen that they will unveil at the 2011 Global Open Water Swimming Conference in New York City. They include Michigan residents Jenny Gately, Mary Jane Quillen and Susan Miller, and their counterparts in New Zealand, Karen Johnston, Carolyn Evans, Brenda McPartlin, Margaret Davidson, Carol Pedersen and Fay McGregor.

Kate Alexander of the Cayman Islands explains, “We wanted to do something special and talked to Maddy Crippen about this possibility. She kindly agreed that [creating this quilt] was positive and good.”

Carolyn, one of the Kiwi quilters, completely understands the passion that Fran had for open water swimming. She crossed the Cook Strait in 1998 as part of an all-female relay who ranged in ages from 28 to 54. After 18 months of focused training, the team from Upper Hutt in New Zealand’s North Island finished in 11 hours 30 minutes. Renowned Philip Rush who escorted the team said< "The weather had been perfect, with only a slight chop. The women are beside themselves. It is a huge achievement for them.”

The women – Trish Coley, Emma Vere-Jones, Wendy, Carolyn Evans, Vonnie Tasker and Helen Pene – were part of a larger group called Fitness Goals. Carol remembers, “We just swim an hour each, then tagged for a change over…till we got to the other side 11 hours later. We just kept having turns until we reached the North Island.”

And like every other channel swim, the phenomenon of open water camaraderie became evident. The swimmers and their crew shared magical moments; difficult, vivid memories of a swim that culminated in a triumphant onshore finish. These are experiences that they will treasure forever.

I had always wondered why swimmers had gotten so close when completing a swim,” explains Carol. “There was this feeling that I was meant to be [there]. The first time in the water hadn’t gone well for me. Morning time was a very sluggish time for me. I got out of the water after my first turn and felt so very, very disappointed with how I had swum. The tide change with the rip was like being in a washing machine. I was being tossed all around, up big waves and then rolling over, finding my arms and legs suddenly in air not underwater. Then I heard the whales calling. Oh my God. It was just so amazing.”

Always is, always will be.

And the joy of becoming composed and calm while swimming in the open water or walking along the shore are undeniable. “If there has ever been a problem or some thinking to be done, I would be off to the beach to sit, walk, paddle on the ocean edge, to find my solutions or just a calm place within. Once back in the water, it was pure happiness.”

And the quilters are sharing their happiness by creating a beautiful quilt honoring an incredible human – Fran Crippen – who similarly and deeply shared their love of the open water.

Fran was always so positive, so helpful, so appreciative, so passionate of everything he experienced, attempted and accomplished, both onshore and off. He was special. Very special.

Copyright © 2011 by Open Water Source