California can lay claim to Tiger Woods, Joe DiMaggio and Tom Brady, just to start. Florida has produced nearly enough NFL hall of famers to field a team.

But in making a list of the best athletes Maine has produced, you don’t get far before mentioning a 68-year-old grandmother.

Pat Gallant-Charette of Westbrook last week came up just short in her attempt to swim across Cook Strait in New Zealand. After 12 hours in the water, she was forced to stop by strong tides and wind after covering 10 of the channel’s 14 miles.

With that also ends Gallant-Charette’s mission to complete the Oceans Sevens challenge — she has crossed six of the seven most challenging open-water channels.

She will not try again for the seventh, something only 13 people have done. But she wants to continue marathon swimming into her 80s, she told Outside magazine on Friday.

Her resume hardly needs any additions.

In 2017, she became the oldest woman to swim the English Channel, taking nearly 18 hours to go from Dover, England, to Cap Blanc, France. She set that record just four weeks after becoming the oldest woman to swim the Molokai Channel in Hawaii, half a world away.

She also is the oldest woman to swim the Tsugaru Strait in Japan, and the North Channel between Ireland and Scotland, too, and she has swam the Catalina Channel in California and the Strait of Gibraltar as well.

Last year, while taking a break from the Oceans Seven challenge, she swam 28 miles around Manhattan Island and 23 miles across Loch Ness in Scotland.

We doubt Gallant-Charette can jump high or run fast. She can’t throw a fastball 95 miles per hour. But that’s not what her sport requires.

Open-water swimming, of course, takes physical stamina earned over years of hard training.

But more than that, it is a test of mental strength. The focus necessary to keep it together through hours and hours in the water is breathtaking.

And beyond the stroke-by-stroke monotony, with so many chances for your brain to tell the body to quit, are the obstacles. Gallant-Charette has completed marathon swims through vomiting and dehydration. She has dealt with chilling water and jellyfish stings. She has been pushed off course by strong currents, adding miles to her distance.

And there’s the way she came to swimming, urged on by her son to swim the Peaks to Portland race after the sudden death of her youngest brother, Robbie, a two-time winner of the event.

Gallant-Charette first swam the 2.4-mile Peaks to Portland in 1997 — and she just kept going, all the way to the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame.

She is among the best in the world at what she does — and what she does is put her head down against the elements, and move inexorably toward her goal.

That won’t get her on a Wheaties box or win her a free trip to Disneyland. It won’t make her a household name around the country.

But the example she has set — by dealing through grief, by setting and completing difficult goals, by looking across vast open water and striving to cross it — is as important as anything else in sport.

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