Chris Dawson, right, high fives Renee Stevens of the HomeBridge Youth Society after completing his swim of the Northumberland Strait on Friday. Dawson was raising money and awareness for the youth care facility.
BELLS POINT – After over six hours in the waters of the Northumberland Strait, Chris Dawson touched shore here Friday to applause from family, friends, and supports.
"The swim was grueling," he said. "(After a few hours) I felt like I was in a washing machine, the current was pulling me out further and further."
The 45-year-old teacher from Wellington, N.S., started the day around 9 a.m. in Cape Jourmain and swam straight through the day until arriving around 4 p.m.
He was doing the 13 km swim for HomeBridge Youth Society, which provides residential care for youth aged 12 to 18 years old in high risk situations. Dawson was able to raise $8,400 for the youth care centre.
"It started out feeling very exhilarating and exciting for the first two hours," he said. "I was getting a little sea water, my stomach was upset out there a few times. It was quite the experience."
He said the look of the water was deceiving for those on shore.
"People here saw, 'Wow this is beautiful for a swim.' It wasn't like that when we first started."
The husband and father's course changed a few times throughout the day because of the strength of the currents pushing and pulling him.
"I was use to long swims, but nothing that compared by the tides pulling back and forth."
Dawson said his sickness made him almost quit a couple times.
I was used to long swims, but nothing that compared by the tides pulling back and forth. Chris Dawson, Strait swimmer
"Know that there were people on the other end and I didn't want to disappoint anybody," he said. "I wanted to make sure I did myself proud, knowing I gave my best and everybody else knew that I tried to do my best. And my best was to land on P.E.I."
As he hit the last stretch and was able to see the shore close, he began getting excited.
"Honestly, I was like, 'I can't wait to see sand,'" he said. "I could start seeing people and I could start seeing the bottom and I was looking forward to it."
As he landed, only one thing ran through his head seeing all the supporters and family around.
"I was just like, 'Can you give me a big ol' hug?" he smiled. "I couldn't believe it was over. I really, really appreciated it."
After it was all over, Dawson said he didn't know where to rank it on his list of accomplishments, but knew he was proud he did it.
"I would say this was a very challenging one for me with regards to athletic and mental fortitude," he said. "I'm very proud of what I can do and what I did in raising awareness for HomeBridge."
Dawson doesn't think he's ready for another long swim.
"I won't be doing any long distance swimming in the near future, I think I'll take a break."