A Westbrook woman who holds open-water swimming records fell just short of her goal to complete the Oceans Seven challenge by swimming across Cook Strait in New Zealand.

Pat Gallant-Charette, 68, announced Thursday that she had received the go-ahead to swim across the Cook Strait. In an update posted Friday morning on Facebook, she said she swam for more than 12 hours before strong tides and winds forced her out of the water.

“Mother Nature unexpectedly gave a powerful tide and winds during the last three miles of my swim,” she wrote. “It was very hazardous for boat crew and swimmer. Philip Rush (pilot) made the right decision to stop my swim.”

Gallant-Charette wrote on her blog that going into the swim she “had no doubt” she would finish.

“I will not be returning to attempt again,” she wrote. “I am satisfied with competing six swims of the Oceans Seven.”

Gallant-Charette, who became the oldest woman to swim the English Channel in June 2017, was seeking to notch the last crossing in the Oceans Seven challenge, which also includes the North Channel, the Molokai Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Tsugaru Strait and the Strait of Gibraltar. The Oceans Seven is considered open-water swimming’s equivalent to the Seven Summits challenge pursued by mountaineers who seek to climb the highest peak on each continent.

Cook Strait separates the north and south islands of New Zealand and is roughly 14 miles across at its narrowest.

In an update several hours into Gallant-Charette’s swim, her son wrote that the boat following her started to sink, but they all got off safely.

“The currents were sending mom backwards like she was in a riptide,” Tom Charette wrote.

Gallant-Charette was about 4 miles from reaching the South Island when she had to get out of the water.

“I’m very proud of her accomplishments today to make it this far considering the tides and rough seas toward the end,” Tom Charette wrote. “She definitely had more in her to finish but unfortunately Mother Nature dictated the swim today.”

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: grahamgillian

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