Although she discovered a passion for open water swimming later in her career, Justine Brousseau is now an exceptional swimmer. She’s fearless. She just eats up the miles, always ready for a new challenge. But she also likes to have fun and share the experience with the people she loves. The Traversée du Lac Tremblant will be an opportunity for her to swim the 15 km as a team.
TLT: Hi Justine. What type of swimmer are you?
JB: I’m an open water swimmer specializing in ultra-distance events, and I really like it challenging
conditions. For the past few years, I’ve been following the Marathon Swimmers rules for swimming marathons. So, I swim without a wetsuit and without outside assistance, regardless of the conditions, water temperature or distance.
TLT: Wow, what a challenge! Have you always been a swimmer? How did you get started swimming in open water?
JB: As a child, I wasn’t athletic at all and I certainly wasn’t destined to become an open water swimmer. I led a sedentary lifestyle for many years, and it was in my early thirties that I decided to change my lifestyle. I started swimming in 2010, through triathlon. A few years ago, I decided to focus on long distance swimming and my longest distance to date is 46 km.
TLT: What would you say to swimmers who would like to get started? Can you start at any age?
JB: Get started! It’s a beautiful and inclusive sport that really doesn’t have to be complicated. All ages and all body types are welcome! There’s no right or wrong time to start, so why wait?
TLT: What do you think is the difference between open water swimming and pool swimming?
JB: Swimming in open water is definitely different from swimming in a pool. In the pool, there is a line on the bottom, a corridor, a wall to turn. In open water, each outing is different with the waves, the wind, the conditions. It’s much more diverse and time goes by much faster!
TLT: What do you like about open water swimming?
JB: I love being in the water; it’s where I feel at home. Swimming in open water gives me an immense sense of freedom and I feel connected to nature! I love having new experiences and I learn something new with each outing. In addition, there are distances for everyone. Each person can choose a distance that suits them.
TLT: How do you prepare for an open water swimming event?
JB: I swim pretty much all year round. I swim a lot in the pool with a mix of speed and endurance work. I add regular open water outings whenever possible. In the weeks leading up to an event, I go on long swims, gradually lengthening the distance from week to week.
TLT: How far will you be swimming at the Traversée du Lac Tremblant this year? Can you give us some advice on preparing for such a distance?
JB: I will most likely do the 15K as a team to share this moment with people I love. I mostly do solo crossings, but I really like the idea of sharing an event with a team! If I have any advice for swimmers participating in the Traversée, it is to swim as much as possible in open water. To be comfortable in different conditions, you must do several workouts in open water and get out of your comfort zone when training! Also, practice with the equipment and nutrition you will use on the day of the event. Finally, on the day of the Traversée, have fun! Yes, we swim as a challenge, but also to have fun.
TLT: You want to pay tribute to the first women who swam in open water. Can you tell us about this project?
JB: For several months now, I’ve been developing the project of an historical re-enactment celebrating the pioneers of long-distance swimming, including Gertrude Ederle, the first woman to cross the English Channel in 1926. Swimming at the Traversée du Lac Tremblant will be a great opportunity to test the wool jersey of the 1920s and motorcycle goggles that were used before the invention of swimming goggles!
TLT: Great! We can’t wait to see that this summer! Do you have an anecdote to tell us that happened during one of your open water trips?
JB: When I decided to dedicate myself to long-distance swimming, the first event I signed up for was called the Big Swim. It was a crossing of the Northumberland Strait, approximately 15 km between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. The days before the event I was hyper stressed to the point of being sick all night, the day before departure. On the morning of the crossing, weather conditions were unfavourable, a thunderstorm developed, and the crossing had to be cancelled for safety reasons. I was so disappointed… That’s when I realized that the starting line is not a stressful threat, but rather a privilege. This experience redefined how I deal with my stress before the start, and today, when I am stressed before jumping into the water, I look back on that moment and refocus on what is important: the privilege of starting the race and the pleasure of swimming.
Follow Justine and be part of the adventure at the Traversée du Lac Tremblant!