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Swimming for the SEALs

On August 28th, weather permitting, Sgt Brett Sobieraski, a 27 year member of the Rochester Police Department and a team leader on SWAT as well as an endurance athlete who has completed ultra marathons, 100 mile runs, and a double Iron Man, will attempt to swim 32 miles across Lake Ontario. He will start at Fort Niagara and finishing at the Port of Toronto. He is doing this to raise awareness and money for Navy Special Warfare families. In 2005 a team from the Navy Special Warfare Development Group (NSWDG) spent a week training in the Greater Rochester area. The Rochester SWAT Team assisted them by securing training facilities and became good friends with two of the SEALS, Master Chief Petty Officer Mark (last name withheld) and Senior Chief Petty Officer Thomas “Tommy V” Valentine. The following year their SWAT Team had the privilege of being invited to spend a week at a Navy base in Virginia. They were one of only 10 SWAT Teams ever invited to utilize their facilities. Mark’s and Tom’s influence has had a lasting effect on that SWAT Team to this day.

On February 13, 2008 Tom died during High Altitude High Opening (HAHO) parachute training in Arizona at the age of 37, while preparing for his 10th deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. He was a father, son, brother and husband. He was also one of the most humble and genuine people Sgt Sobieraski says has ever met. Shortly after his death the All In, All The Time Foundation was established in his honor. The foundation fills the interim needs of surviving spouses and children of fallen Navy Special Warfare warriors. The short term and long term needs have been met through various organizations. It’s the in between needs, i.e. legal fees (wills, estate management fees, ect,), household and auto repairs, counseling assistance (outside of the military chain) and any other emergency that may arise when the head of household has been killed or injured. The foundation alleviates some of the financial burdens that arise days, months or years after the funeral.

Sgt Sobieraski has answered his top six most frequentky asked questions about the swim here:

1. Why? – Why the hell not! I was sidelined for a little after a 100 mile ultramarathon in April and began increasing my swimming sessions. Many years ago I spent a summer on the Lake Ontario and have always wondered if it was possible to swim across it. Another draw is that quite honestly I’m not 100% sure I can do it.

2. Will I be using any swim aids?- No fins allowed. I will be wearing a sleeveless wetsuit, swim goggles, American flag swim cap and a waterproof IPod with 18 of my favorite running songs on it.

3. How long with it take?- My best guess is between 20 and 22 hours. Using the front crawl (freestyle), my swim pace is roughly 32 minutes a mile. I have to factor in fatigue as well as pit stops (treading water) for eating and drinking. My plan is to start at 5:00 pm on August 28th. The lake tends to calm down at night and this will also limit my sun exposure the next day.

4. Has it been done before? I have found 54 documented swims across Lake Ontario. The first was done in 1954.

5. Will I be alone?- Hell no, I’m a little crazy but not stupid. The plan is to have a larger boat for carrying my crew and supplies. I will also have a kayaker next to me to help keep me swimming straight.

6. What’s the longest I have swam?- 7.5 miles has been my longest training swim.

Please consider donating to this very worthy cause. 100% of the proceeds go towards supporting these families. By donating you are honoring Tom and keeping his sacrifice, and the sacrifices of all his fallen brothers, at the forefront of America’s conscious. The worst thing we could do is forget the sacrifices of American heroes.

You can donate by going directly to their website and donate with a credit card (please put “Brett’s Swim” in the specific event box. This fund was established and is administered by Tom’s widow Christina. She knows firsthand the needs of surviving families.


6 Responses to “Swimming for the SEALs”

  1. Mike says:

    Good Luck Brett, from Niagara Regional Police Service.

    Thats a daunting task. I’ve had some Yanks ask me about the “Oil Rig” way out in that “ocean”. I explained to them that was the CN tower and that ocean was Lake Ontario. Too funny.

    Anyway, great cause and hope he gets to Toronto safely.


  2. Bman says:

    Good on him.

  3. Patrick says:

    I’ll be downtown Toronto on the Saturday. Might head down to Harbourfront and see if I can spot him if he crosses it.

  4. Chuck says:

    What time is the big leap in? I’m in Rochester and would love to be there for support!

  5. Brett Sobieraski says:

    Thanks for the kind words and encouragement! I’m starting the swim at 5 pm on the 28th.

  6. Dave says:

    Best of luck Brett!

    However, you’re arming yourself with: “… a waterproof IPod with 18 of my favorite running songs on it.”

    18 songs for 20 hours of swimming?

    Ready to hear your favourite tracks about sixteen times each?