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Meet the oldest woman to swim across the English Channel

by ZwemZa on October 10th, 2017

Pat Gallant-Charette

Pat Gallant-Charette is living proof that we don’t need to put time constraints on our dreams. The 66-year-old grandmother of three from Westbrook, Maine became the oldest woman to ever swim across the English Channel in June when she made the 21-mile-turned-34-mile crossing (because of the strong current) in 18 hours.

Although a huge accomplishment, that wasn’t it for Gallant-Charette in 2017. She also became the oldest woman to swim the 26 miles between the Hawaiian islands of Molokai and Oahu earlier in the year. And, in September, she swam 32 miles across Lake Ontario.

With a strong belief that “it’s never too late to start something new,” Gallant-Charette started swimming in her mid-40s.

According to her Facebook page, she began open water swimming when her brother, Robbie, died of a heart attack at 34 years old. He had won the Peaks to Portland 2.4-mile swim twice, and Gallant-Charette’s son encouraged her to take on the same race to honor Robbie.

That’s where the love affair with open-water swimming began.

She dedicated her English Channel crossing to Robbie and to her other brother, Johnny, who died in high school due to being electrocuted in a physics lab.

With “Robbie and Johnny” written on her upper arms during the swim, she thought of those two as she made history.

As I slowly walked up the beach to the finish line in France, I thought of them,” she wrote on Facebook. “Because Robbie was the swimmer of the two, I said, ‘this is for you Robbie.’ Johnny would have been so proud of my accomplishment, too. And, he probably would have jokingly said ‘Why didn’t you run up the beach to the finish line.’ Johnny this swim was for you, too. Love to both!”



Gallant-Charette didn’t get into swimming earlier in life because she was extremely busy as a dedicated nurse and mother.

“When I was I was so busy working as a nurse and raising a family, I didn’t even have any dreams, because I was too busy,” she told Bangor Daily News.

Now that she has time to turn inward, she’s off and running, err, swimming. And, the world’s waters await.

Kim Constantinesco

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