Jen Alexander was diagnosed 19 years ago when she was 13 years old - back when blood tests took 3-5 minutes. She had never swum in open water before going to Camp Huronda, but a fish gave her a funny look while she was swimming and she vowed she'd never do it again. Nearly 20 years later, Jen has swum from Alcatraz to San Francisco, around parts of Manhattan, and in lakes and oceans around the Maritimes. Jen never wears a wet suit, and moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia to be closer to the ocean.
Last summer, this marathon swimmer swam from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island in 11 hours and 4 minutes. Jen figured out how to test her sugar while treading water and dodging really big jellyfish. Jen had to adjust her basal rate four times, and her blood sugar averaged 7.0 mmol/L [126 mg/dl] during this effort.
Weeks later, Jen attempted to become the 18th Canadian to swim the English Channel. Conditions were rough: the largest waves were 3 meters [10 feet] tall and her coach was throwing up all over the place! Despite the challenges, the official Observer documented that Jen was that happiest swimmer he had ever seen. Jen's boat captain called the swim off for safety reasons, but Jen will try again in 2009.
This year, Jen will swim from Prince Edward Island to New Brunswick -- and then back!
Jen has learned a lot about exercise, diabetes, insulin sensitivity and hypothermia. She now learns from and teaches scientific researchers, and lets them conduct experiments on her hard-earned tolerance to the cold.
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Last Updated: Sunday December 30, 2007 12:37:51
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