March 23, 2020: Due to COVID-19 concerns, VOWSA has temporarily paused practice swim and race registrations. We will send out more information later in the week.

Executives and Directors

President

Craig Stewart

Craig was thrown into a pool by his father when he was 2 and–reportedly–did not enjoy the experience. This resulted in his avoiding water (other than falling bits of it or glasses of it) for many years. More recently, though, the ocean has called, via VOWSA and a need to prepare for a triathlon a few years ago. And how wonderful it is to be invited to slip into the ocean and spend time there and feel calmed and enlivened by it. VOWSA can make this easier for people.

Vice President

Christine Burns

Christine has always loved being in the water.  Christine started open water swim training in 2017 and has been volunteering with VOWSA since 2018. When she isn’t swimming, biking or running around this beautiful city she can be found baking goodies for family and friends.  Christine really enjoys being a part of the VOWSA community and she is very excited to take on the role of VP this year!

Secretary

Open Position – Secretary

This position needs to be filled for the 2020 year.

Treasurer Race Director - Canada Day

Ron Johnston

Ron is a recreational swimmer and has been an active member of VOWSA since 2015. He joined VOWSA to become comfortable in open water swimming in order to do an Olympic Triathlon. Away from his work in securities regulation, Ron also likes cycling, skiing and working on his weight routine at the YWCA. Ron participates annually in the Sun Run.

Practice Swim Coordinator

Eden Katz

Eden began volunteering with VOWSA in 2016 and loved it so much that she came back to work as our Practice Swim Coordinator. Eden enjoys spending Monday and Thursday nights down at the beach helping swimmers sign in and out but has yet to get in the water herself. With a little push she might join us for a swim this summer! Eden can’t wait for each season to begin. She is looking forward to seeing some familiar faces and meeting all of the new swimmers that will be joining us this summer!

Sponsorship Coordinator

Christine Mackey

Learning to swim as an adult, Christine started attending VOWSA after graduating from the pool and has been in love with ocean swimming since. She’s been a VOWSA member for ten years, and volunteering at practice swims & on race days almost as long. Making up for lost time swimming in her youth, Christine is now obsessed with swimming long distances including the 11.8km Skaha Lake Ultra Swim and stoked for each VOWSA season.

Race Director Canada Day Challenge

Gerda Wever

Gerda learned to embrace open water swimming after suffering an injury that made swimming her only physical activity option. She took a short break from swimming post-recovery in favour of trail running but has returned to it with big goals for 2020, including the Skaha Lake ultra (solo swim), Alcatraz to San Fransisco, and, biggest of the year, crossing the Ijsselmeer, Netherlands (22km). She is very excited about putting together, with Ron, the Canada Day Challenge.

Race Director Kits Challenge

Sylvie Kruchten

Swimming in the ocean is a different experience each time. The water maybe green, brown, blue, yellowish, clear or opaque and you may run into sea weed, wood, you never know who you are going to meet. Where else in the world can you swim in the ocean in the middle of a big City? Hello VOWSA! It is my hope to swim one day with my granddaughters Harmonie and Rubi and grandson Henri. It is a pleasure to share my love of the ocean with all VOWSA participants!

Race Director Bay Challenge

Open Position – Bay Challenge

This position needs to be filled for the 2020 year.

Safety Coordinator

Jessi Harewicz

Jessi is a local Ultra Marathon skin swimmer, having swam all of VOWSA’s race events in 2015. More recently, Jessi completed the Triple Crown of open water swimming: the English Channel (2017), the Catalina Channel (2018) and a circumnavigation swim of Manhattan Island, New York City (2019). Her 1st pioneering swim in September of 2019 was from Nanaimo to Kitsilano Beach (58.6km) in 30 hours, 13 minutes, and 3 seconds. She loves to share her knowledge and mentor other swimmers, helping them to discover the wonderful world of wild swimming!

Website Coordinator Media

Theresa Putkey

The first open water swim Theresa did, her coach asked her, “Are you having fun?” and she answered, “No. I don’t like it.” She stuck with the class and after the fifth swim fell in love. Now she takes her wetsuit or bathing suit where ever she travels. Any lake or ocean is an opportunity to swim! Theresa taught her anxiety-ridden dog to swim. He only goes in the water if she’s in the water, and he probably views it more as a rescue mission. Theresa has had a lot of fun as a VOWSA member and hopes to give back and support the community as a volunteer.

Permits Coordinator

Jessica Abells

Jess loves being in the water. She discovered open water swimming in 2014, and now she finds that even Kits pool is too small. She feels lucky to live near the ocean, and even luckier to have found a like-minded group of ocean (and lake!) lovers to swim with. When not swimming, Jess can often be found at a local cafe, coffee in hand, knitting or reading a good book. She is very excited to serve on this year’s VOWSA Executive and she can’t wait to see you all at the beach!

VLA Liaison & Social

Jayne Loutit

Jayne began swimming with VOWSA 3 years ago, with a little prodding from Andrea, a past president. She now is fully immersed in practices and events throughout the summer. As a former lifeguard with the Vancouver Park Board, Jayne was also involved with the Vancouver Lifeguard Association. Becoming the VLA liaison with VOWSA was a natural progression, assisting with life-guarding and first aid coverage at races. As a native Vancouverite, Jayne also enjoys spending time at the beach with her doodle Bimini. Jayne and Bimini share an equal enthusiasm for open water swimming, although Bimini seldom wears her wet-suit.

Volunteer Coordinator

Gareth Williams

Past President Media Coordinator

Andrea McCallum

Andrea’s been involved with VOWSA since 2014. Volunteering through a variety of experiences as Secretary, Race Registrar, poster maker, and President, she is now swimming into the Past President role. Andrea is a little surprised (but thrilled) at how much she still loves the water and swimming. It’s been such a positive constant in her life, resulting in some wonderful lifelong friends. Pretty amazing ‘eh?! Pool, lake, ocean or hot tub it’s all good. VOWSA creates an impressive blend of swimming, socials and new friends. What could be better than great people who love to swim! Planning adventures and holidays around awesome places to swim is STILL her obsession.