Kayakers – COPY 2020

Provide support along the way.

Volunteer as a kayaker

We are always looking for experienced kayakers to play a critical role in supporting our BIG SWIMMERS. If you are interested in helping in a BIG way please email Waterops@givetolive.ca.

Please register as a kayaker for the 2020 BIG SWIM by clicking the button below.

Registration for kayakers opens March 3, 2020 at 12:00pm AST

An additional new route for our 10th anniversary! Choose your day or do them both.

The BIG SWIM is set to celebrate its 10th anniversary in 2020. To commemorate this special year, we have a twist on our usual event: a two day, three-province crossing with an expected combined distance of 26km. Kayakers may register for either event or a combination of the two. 

These events are: 

An approximate 8km swim from Nova Scotia to New Brunswick on August 1.

Our start will begin in the Tidnish area ending in Port Elgin. Due to the sheltered area, it is likely that this will be a “fairly straight” swim. Start times will be set closer to the event weekend and will be based on weather conditions. 

An approximate 16km-18km swim from New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island on August 2.

Our start will remain as years past, on the beach of Cape Jourimain Nature Centre and finish in Borden, Prince Edward Island. As we know from years past, the tides and currents take participants on a curved crossing which is why the distance varies from year to year. Start times will be set closer to the event weekend and will be based on weather conditions.  

Please note that kayakers may be required on Friday, July 31 for safety details however our volunteer committee are continuing to iron out those details.

Important information to remember:

• Safety kayakers are key to the success of The BIG SWIM. You will provide your swimmer with food, hydration, emotional support, and safety support.

• Each swimmer is required to have a kayaker to escort them on their swim.

• If you don’t already know a swimmer, that’s OK. We will pair you with one. If you do, please ensure that you let us know who they are during registration

• Each kayaker must be able to meet our physical and equipment requirements. We have safety standards set to ensure that everyone is safe on the water and ask that you please respect those. We will be checking up on skills and equipment.

Skills a BIG SWIM kayaker should have:

• Must be comfortable sitting in a kayak for 4-8 hours.

• Kayaker’s are required to hold a Paddle Canada Skills Level 1. Courses are available through local outfitters. We are planning to hold a number of training sessions through Spring & Summer.

• You are required to join us for our Mandatory Safety briefing. Those who do not attend, do not kayak. .

• If you have any questions on kayaker requirements, please contact waterops@givetolive.ca

Your registration includes:

• BIG SWIM t-shirt,
• Safety support on event day,
• Training and support from former BIG SWIM Kayakers.

Mandatory Equipment list for Kayakers

14ft + Ocean compatible kayak with sealed hatches, secured deck lines and a cockpit skirt (*river kayaks, tandem kayaks and open cockpit kayaks do not qualify)
Kayak requirement for The BIG SWIM

Two (2) Canadian approved PFDs. One to be worn by the kayaker and one secured to the kayak’s deck fitted for the swimmer.

One (1) safety whistle

One (1) Compass. Deck mounted versus hand held preferred

One (1) approved rescue throw line

One (1) bailer. Hand held or pump

One (1) Paddle float. Solid foam or inflatable

One (1) Spare paddle

One (10) Cockpit skirt

One (1) Smoke flair (Supplied on SWIM day)

One (1) VHF radio (Supplied on SWIM day if you don’t own one)

One (1) PocketFinder GPS unit (Supplied on SWIM day)

FAQs for All Interested Participants

Is it safe?

The safety of each participant (Swimmers, Kayakers, and Volunteers) is paramount in every decision made. Everything we do and every decision we make will be guided by safety. Nothing is worth the risk of injury or worse. Our #1 goal is: All swimmers in and all swimmers out safely.

This requires a team effort and understanding that all decisions made are based on safety and may override participants preferences. GIVETOLIVE has been running endurance events for eight years and we have an excellent safety record. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation to continue our record that includes no major incidents.

There is a MANDATORY safety meeting for all participants on the Saturday before the swim. Details of the safety plan, route and many other event day questions will be discussed in detail at this meeting. You must attend the meeting in order to do the swim.

Who is in charge on the day of the swim?

We take safety very seriously. It is our #1, #2, and #3 goal for the event. On the day of the event, there is a chain of command that all participants and volunteers must obey. That chain of command is as follows:

  1. Captain(s) in Charge/Safety Officer
  2. Event Director/Core Kayaker Team
  3. Boat Operators
  4. Lifeguards
  5. Kayakers
  6. Swimmers

Swimmers MUST OBEY everyone else in the chain of command. All other people in the chain of command are in a more senior position than a swimmer and all people can remove you from the water for safety reasons. This is imperative to the success of a safely run event. If anything goes wrong (weather worsens, waves pick up, someone gets sick), then all swimmers agree that it is not their call on whether they continue swimming or not.

How do I get to the BIG SWIM event?

Each participant is responsible for getting themselves to and from The BIG SWIM. The NB to PEI swim starts at Cape Jourimain Nature Centre, Cape Jourimain, NB and finishes on Beach Road in Borden – Carleton, PEI. Our start for the NS to NB swim will begin in the Tidnish area ending in Port Elgin. Exact details of the start and finish line will be finalized and communicated soon.

What do I do about food?

All meals that weekend are your responsibility. There is a limited selection of food at the Cape Jourimain National Wildlife Area as well as a variety of restaurants in Gateway Village on PEI. We are looking into having a food truck on the finish line beaches but details are unconfirmed at this time.

All participants are responsible for their own food and drink on the day of the swim. Please pack everything you would need to keep you hydrated and nourished through the SWIM itself.

What about breakfasts each morning before the swim?

All participants are responsible for their own food and drink on the day of the swim. Please pack everything you would need to keep you hydrated and nourished through the SWIM itself.

Where do I sleep?

There are a limited number of accommodations in the close proximity to the Confederation Bridge. You need to book your accommodations yourself and we recommend you do that right away. Here is a list of some recommended options where our participants have stayed in the past.

Tourism New Brunswick and Tourism PEI can be a great place to start as well.


The Coastal Cabins (Formerly C & O Coastal Cabins)
113 Dixon Rd Loop
Cape Tormentine, NB E4M 2B7
(506) 538-9990

Victoria Veranda Bed & Breakfast
1 West Main St.
Port Elgin, NB
(506) 538-0089

Indian Point B&B Motel
323 Fort St.
Port Elgin, NB
(506) 538-7586

Pumpkin Inn B&B
9 Mill St.
Port Elgin, NB
(506) 538-1906

Little Shemogue Inn
2361 Route 955,
Little Shemogue, NB
(506) 538-2320


Murray Beach Campground
1679 Route 955
Little Shemogue, NB
(506) 538-2628

Cape Tormentine Beach Campground
1 Route 955
Cape Tormentine, NB
(506) 538-7229


Slumber Westhill
29 Westhill Dr.
Charlottetown, PE
(902) 894-9555

Holiday Inn Express & Suites
200 Capital Dr.
Charlottetown, PE
(902) 892-1201

Best Western Charlottetown
238 Grafton St.
Charlottetown, PE
(902) 892-2461

Elmwood Heritage Inn
121 N River Rd.
Charlottetown, PE
(902) 368-3310

Find more options here:
Charlottetown Hotels


Jellystone Park PEI
23714 Trans-Canada Hwy.
Borden-Carleton, PE

Cumberland Cove Seaside Campground
Cumberland Cove Rd., PE
(902) 855-2961


Marshlands Inn
55 Bridge St.
Sackville, NB
(506) 536-0170

Coastal Inn Sackville
15 Wright St.
Sackville, NB
(506) 536-0000

Tantramar Motel
4 Robson Ave.
Sackville, NB
(506) 536-1327


Auberge Wild Rose Inn
17 Baseline Rd.
Moncton, NB
(506) 383-9751

Comfort Inn East
20 Maplewood Dr.
Moncton, NB
(506) 859-6868

Holiday Inn Express & Suites
425 Adelard Savoie Blvd.
Dieppe, NB
(506) 388-5050

Fairfield Inn & Suites Moncton
26 Marriott Dr.
Moncton, NB
(506) 855-0033

Best Western Plus
300 Lewisville Rd.
Moncton, NB
(506) 388-0888

Find more options here:
Moncton Hotels

What time are the swims starting?

The start times will be calculated based on tides and currents. A decision will be made closer to the event. The exact start times will be announced at the safety meeting.

Everyone will need to be at the start points at least 30 minutes before the first wave enters the water.

Do we all start together?

Swimmers will be starting in waves (no pun intended) based on their anticipated pace. There will be 3 waves and they will be launched at intervals of approximately 15 minutes. Please note that we monitor the weather, tides and currents carefully and that the launch times cannot be confirmed prior to the safety meeting on Saturday. Plan to be flexible with your schedule on your swim day.

If I’m in the last wave do I need to be there for the start of the first wave?

Yes! Although you may be on the beach for some time before you start, the beginning of the BIG SWIM is exciting and everyone should experience it together. It is also possible that the heat start times may be adjusted in response to conditions so it’s important for everyone to be on the beach and ready to go.

Do we have to worry about other boat traffic?

Both swims are happening in open boating areas and there may be other boats on the water during the swim. However, we notify the Coast Guard and other boating agencies of the event well in advance and our logistics team will be in regular communication with the Coast Guard and the Marine Traffic Centre to ensure that all boats are aware of our presence and diverted away from participants.

Will there be paramedics, lifeguards, and other emergency personnel?

Yes. There will be lifeguards on the safety boats and on the beach at the finish lines. There will be medical professionals waiting at the finish lines to check each swimmer and kayaker at the end of their swim. There is an emergency plan with local EMS personnel in the event of an on-water emergency.

Are there bathrooms available during the swim?

Practically, no. Port-a-potties will be onsite at the start of the NS to NB swim and bathrooms are available before the start of the NB to PEI swim at the Cape Jourimain Nature Centre and port-a-potties are available at the finish area in PEI. During the swim, there are very limited facilities on the larger safety boats.

It can take an extended period of time for a safety boat to reach you for a bathroom break as we cannot sacrifice swimmer safety for the luxury of a toilet. We urge you to arrive early to the Cape Jourimain Nature Centre on the morning of the swim so you can make use of the facilities there before the swim.

What happens if the weather gets bad?

The weather plays a key role in the safety of The BIG SWIM. We will discuss the weather forecast and the weather contingency plans in detail at the mandatory Safety Meeting on Saturday. There is a detailed evacuation plan in place in the event that weather degrades during the swim to the point that the event must be stopped. If required, the safety boats will remove all of the participants from the water and get them to shore.

Will I see wildlife?

Maybe. The Northumberland Strait is home to jellyfish, numerous types of fish and marine mammals. The timing of this year’s event means that it’s unlikely that jelly fish will be present in any significant numbers. In past events swimmers have encountered almost no wildlife. The occasional seal or dolphin has been seen in the distance by kayakers.