Eve Burns: Taking a Big Swim for a Great Cause

Strait swimmer Eve Burns with husband Don Dine who accompanied her in his kayak.
Strait swimmer Eve Burns with husband Don Dine who accompanied her in his kayak.
Strait swimmer Eve Burns with husband Don Dine who accompanied her in his kayak.

On August 16, Dartmouth’s Eve Burns was one of 53 swimmers who tackled the Northumberland Strait to raise money for Brigadoon Village, a charity that provides a camp experience for chronically-ill kids.

Burns, a life-long swimmer, completed the 14km swim from Cape Jourimain, NB to Borden, PEI in 6.25 hours. She raised $2,400 towards the collective fundraising collective goal of $150,000. (The total stands at $148,000 and donations will be accepted until September 15. Donate here.)

As well as being part of an awesome fundraising effort, Burns, age 61,  became the oldest female to swim across the Northumberland Strait.

Find out more about the highs–and lows–of this exciting experience.


Why did you decide to take part in The Big Swim?

EB: I’ve been involved in masters swimming since I was 30 and personally, I wanted to take up this challenge once I retired from teaching. It’s been a few years but once I heard about the fundraiser for Brigadoon last year, I saw that as my opportunity and a good fit for me as a Learning Centre teacher.


How much training did you need to do?

EB: I’ve been pool training 3 times a week at the Dartmouth Sportsplex in recent years so in June I started training in Dartmouth Lakes like Banook, Charles & Oat Hill. In July I transitioned to the cold ocean. Two events this summer prepared me. I swam the EPIC 5k in Lake Banook, and the BrigaSwim 5k around Georges Island in the Halifax Harbour. Once in the lakes and ocean I trained with my husband, Don Dine. He was in a kayak as he was during the swim across the Northumberland Strait. We had to practise navigating, pacing, resting, eating, and hydrating over a long time in the water. We also trained together in cold water, surf, rough conditions and strong currents.


What were the best and worst parts of your swim?

EB: The best part was the first half. We stayed on the east side of the bridge, about 1.6k out. I was swimming strong, rhyming off all the names of people who contributed to my fundraising for Brigadoon campers, recalling their words of encouragement, listing off the names of the 11 Brigadoon camps this summer, ploughing through the ocean swells with ease, certain we’d finish in under 5 hours, and visualizing my arrival on the beach. Big mistake. The tide changed, and we were quickly swept under the bridge and to the west, beyond the Borden beach finish line that we had spied close to the end of the bridge. Then it became swimming against the current, making little to no headway, any stopping to eat or drink pushing me further away. Finally we were counting down the bridge pillars, and moving slowly toward that finish that I could see again. I finished in about 6.25 hours. Phew!


How were people able to track you?

EB: The GiveToLive organizers used the Pocketfinder app to follow a transponder on my kayak. My supporters, family & friends watched #7 cross the Strait. It’s been so cool to hear from them about what they saw, what they supposed was happening and that they knew we’d finished. It’s not exactly a spectator event so this tracking was ideal.


Would you do it again?

EB: No, once is enough. It is a big commitment. I admire the other 52 swimmers, many of whom are parents and have careers with less time to train than me. But I’d recommend the event to other strong swimmers. I will definitely remain involved with Brigadoon Village though.

Volunteers, swimmers and kayakers of The Big Swim 2015
Volunteers, swimmers and kayakers of The Big Swim 2015