Retired U.S. Navy Commander Vicki Fischbeck is one tough lady.
A retired navy pilot, she flew numerous aircraft over her career, from the single-engine T-34 trainer to multi-engine transports, retiring with 4,600 flying hours and 250 (dangerous) aircraft carrier landings for United Airlines, the Embry-Riddle Center at Naval Air Station North Island and UPS.
But she blushes over with excitement when she talks about her 2009 swim across the English Channel with Team Chanel No. 51 and Nancy McCoy Blair, Margaret Peterson, Liz Fry, Dani Grady, and Peggy Gaskill.
She explained, "When someone asked me, 'Why on earth did you want to swim the English Channel?', my response to them was, 'I didn't know exactly why I wanted to swim the English Channel, until I did. Now I know why I swam the English Channel, it's an experience like no other."
Those are mighty profound words for an aviator who has flown all over the world.
"I trained with two other women here in San Diego, California. We found the Pacific Ocean to be perfect for our English Channel challenge. I am not a strong swimmer, but after a few lessons with Total Immersion, I had a renewed sense of confidence and a little bag of tools. I held up my part of the team with flying colors when we finished in 13 hours and 35 minutes. We completed our relay swim of the Channel with [recent International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Honour Swimmer] Liz Fry as our team leader and swimmer extraordinaire."
The women, ages 47-53, dedicated their relay swim in honor of cancer survivors while raising funds for San Diego County Cancer Navigator, a free advocacy and information service for the public co-founded by Grady, a breast cancer survivor.
Fischbeck, Blair and Grady prepared themselves in Coronado, south of the renowned La Jolla Cove but home to the Navy SEALs and the famous BUDS training locale. Combining early morning pool swims with Pacific Ocean swims along the Coronado coast, women trained diligently. “Swimming the Channel completed a goal I never would have even considered a year ago. Growing up in South Dakota, I came from a very limited swimming background. However, with Nancy as our coach, I learned swimming skills that were invaluable. Working with her made this possible.”
Copyright © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association