Contact Us

The Vancouver Open Water Swim Association (VOWSA) is a not-for-profit Society almost entirely run by volunteers, benefiting the BC Special Olympics and Vancouver Lifeguard Association.

Please include the contact name in brackets of the person you wish to connect with when emailing the race directors and volunteer coordinators.

Our mailing address

Vancouver Open Water Swim Association

VM PO Box 5063, Vancouver, BC V6B 4A9

2019 Directors

President

Andrea McCallum
President “at” vowsa.bc.ca

Andrea’s been involved with VOWSA since 2014. Volunteering as Secretary, Race Registrar and expanding her graphics skills, she has now put on the President swim cap! Andrea’s been in love with the water for as long as she can remember. A vivid memory of swimming in Lake Okanagan when she was around 4 is one of her favourites. Connecting with VOWSA has been a natural progression for this water baby. What could be better than great people who love to swim! Planning adventures and holidays around awesome places to swim is still her obsession.

Vice President

Craig Stewart
vicepresident “at” vowsa.bc.ca

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.

Treasurer

Hugues Letourneau
treasurer “at” vowsa.bc.ca

After attending a few VOWSA swim practices with his bathing suit (cold!) in the summer of 2015, Hugues decided to invest in a wetsuit in 2016…and the rest is history! He has barely missed a VOWSA practice since then. He considers himself very lucky to be able to jump on his bike after a day of work and head for Kits Beach for a swim in the unique setting that is English Bay. He also enjoys talking and meeting with a community of swimming enthusiasts from whom he has learned a lot. Originally from Québec, he grew up in Québec and Ontario, traveled around and moved to Vancouver in 2013.

Secretary

Theresa Putkey
secretary “at” vowsa.bc.ca

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 Secretary.

Sponsorship Coordinator

Ronda Pfleger
sponsor “at” vowsa.bc.ca

Ronda is bright-eyed and excited for the 2019 season!

Social Co-Coordinator

Rachel Schoeler
social “at” vowsa.bc.ca

Rachel has volunteered with VOWSA for the past 6 years. Her love of swimming started at a young age when she jumped into the pool for swimming lessons with her neighbors and older brother. She started swimming with VOWSA when she moved to Vancouver in 2008 and has fallen in love with the sport and the community. In 2014 she swam across the Georgia Strait and in 2016 she joined Chris Scott in a relay swim across the English Channel. She is a dedicated water advocate standing up for our natural right to swimmable water through work, volunteer opportunities and sport.

Social Co-Coordinator

Keith Adams
social “at” vowsa.bc.ca

Keith has been swimming consistently since he was a kid in the 1980s. He was on the varsity team in high school, but then did not swim on a team again until he joined UBC Masters in 2013. Keith joined VOWSA in August 2018. He credits 2 wavy swims with VOWSA for helping him immensely with the wavy swim at the Vancouver Triathlon during September 2018. Keith is also a runner and he has run 13 half marathon races plus several 10K, 8K, and 5K road races, plus trails races of multiple distances. He is currently training for the BMO Vancouver Marathon on May 5 (2019). Keith is a member of several running clubs and groups in Vancouver and in Bellingham Washington, 3 swim clubs, and 2 triathlon clubs. He is exited to be the social co-coordinator!

Volunteer Coordinator

Vacant
volunteercord “at” vowsa.bc.ca

Practice Swim Coordinator

Eden Katz
volunteerbeach “at” vowsa.bc.ca

Eden began volunteering with VOWSA in 2016 and loved it so much that she came back to work as our Practice Swim Coordinator in 2017. 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 the 2019 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!

Social Media Coordinator

Jessica Abells
media “at” vowsa.bc.ca

Website  Coordinator

Andrea McCallum
media “at” vowsa.bc.ca

Race Directors

Co-Race Director, Canada Day Challenge

Craig Stewart
canrace “at” vowsa.bc.ca

Craig is happy to be co-organizing the Canada Day Challenge with Ron. Craig organized it last year and has all kinds of florid and vague opinions about how it could be “better.” He will have someone to talk to this time.

Co-Race Director, Canada Day Challenge

Ron Johnston
canrace “at” vowsa.bc.ca

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. Ron is also contributing as Practice Swim Volunteer Coordinator and is responsible for seeing that everyone has signed-out from practice swims. Ron feels this is ideal for him given he is usually one of the last people out of the water in completing his 2x around the circuit.

Co-Race Director, Kits Challenge

Jessi Harewicz
kitsrace “at” vowsa.bc.ca

Jessi is a local Ultra Marathon skin swimmer, with completion of all VOWSA events in 2015. Her local swims include: Georgia Straits (Female record 11:20 min), Bowen Island circumnavigation 2018 (30.5 km in 21 hours). Internationally, the English Channel (England to France) in 2017, followed by Catalina Channel (L.A.) 2018. And leisure swim, Alcatraz (San Francisco) to finish off the year! Jessi loves cold water (can you tell!). She shares her knowledge, and mentors other swimmers, discovering the wonderful world of wild swimming!

Co-Race Director, Kits Challenge

Sylvie Kruchten
kitsrace “at” vowsa.bc.ca

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 grand daughters Harmonie and Rubi.It is a pleasure to share my love of the ocean with all VOWSA participants!

Co-Race Director, Kits Challenge

Christine Mackey
kitsrace “at” vowsa.bc.ca

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 last year and stoked to be back with VOWSA for another season.

Race Director, Bay Challenge

Jessica Abells
bayrace “at” vowsa.bc.ca

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!

Safety Coordinator

Jim Close
safety “at” vowsa.bc.ca

I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba where I did all the usual things a young swimmer does, attained my Royal Life Saving Society Qualifications, qualified and taught as a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor and swam breast stroke competitively. After leaving school I headed for Jamaica to teach High School for a number of years. Where I continued to both teach and coach swimming. On returning to Vancouver I absented myself from the swim community until I was turning 50. I started pool swimming and eventually entered my first Open Water Swim event at Sasamat Lake in 1998 and have been volunteering with VOWSA ever since.

Permits Coordinator

Chris Scott
permits “at” vowsa.bc.ca

After swimming with VOWSA for years I joined the board in 2012 hoping I could help in some small way. Many years later this amazing community has become an integral part of my life and is a constant source of inspiration. This picture is proof that I do own a wetsuit; however my molten core denies me the ability to use it.

VOWSA VLA Liaison

Jayne Loutit
OrgRep “at” vowsa.bc.ca

Jayne began swimming with VOWSA 3 years ago, with a little prodding from President Andrea. 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. Beginning in 2019 Jayne will also be assisting with permitting for practices, events and races for VOWSA.
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.

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