In August 1989, Barb McNeill of Summerside, PEI, swam the English Channel, one of 15 Canadians to date and the only one from PEI who has done so.Thirty years ago, in August 1989, Barb McNeill of Summerside, PEI, swam the English Channel, one of 15 Canadians to date and the only one from PEI who has done so. Decades later, her passion for swimming and water safety is perhaps rivalled only by the love of her golden retrievers.
 
As a child, Centennial Pool in Summerside became McNeill’s second home. After finishing Red Cross swimming lessons at age 11, she took lifeguarding courses that would lead to a career managing that pool for 42 years. Her 34-kilometre English Channel swim from England to France was completed two years after an equally challenging 35-kilometre swim across Northumberland Strait from Cape Tormentine, New Brunswick, to Summerside.
 
“Over the years, I have taught tens of thousands of children Red Cross swimming and I loved it,” said McNeill. “I continue to swim for fitness now and when people are in the pool and ask for help, I always volunteer my time.”
 
Barb with her Golden Retrievers.Several times, she has saved lives in and out of the pool. One memory has stuck with McNeill since 1991: “A veteran collapsed while I was walking my golden retrievers, and someone called out for help. I ran to him, and with the help of a local police officer doing two-person CPR, we revitalized him.”
 
That event and other close calls in the pool have been her inspiration even after retiring as pool manager to continue to teach Red Cross First Aid to others in her community.
 
“Water Safety and First Aid are skills that everyone can learn,” says McNeill, “and something that everyone can benefit from.”

 
Learn more about Red Cross swimming and water safety courses.

 
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