Finishing at the wall in Marilyn Bell Park with her mother watching
Swimming . . . for the future
A swim to fund Cancer Research
Melissa finished her university swimming career with Brock University in the summer of 2005 and wanted that career to be topped with a "Big Swim". She completed that Big Swim on 9-10 August 2005, at age 23, with a time of 16 hours 11 minutes to complete the Lake Ontario course from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Marilyn Bell Park. Melissa's coach Peter Bradstreet, her manager, and four pacers were all members of Brock University swim team.
Melissa's swim raised about $8,400 for cancer research at Sick Children's Foundation, Toronto. A very close friend of Melissa's lost her mother to cancer two years ago and she wanted to do something in her memory. Melissa called her swim, "Swimming for our future".
She started the swim at 8:01 p.m. on August 9. The water was 26 degrees C, the air was 27C, and there was a southwest wind blowing in Niagara-on-the-Lake. She swam sliced through 1m rollers without difficulty. With the aid of the outflow of the Niagara River, she covered and amazing 11.5 km in the first 2.5 hours. Mercifully, the wind died down at around 1 a.m. The water temperature fell throughout the swim down to 20 deg. C in the last 5 km. With an 8-11 knot SW-SSW wind, the waves picked up to 1 metre during the final two hours, and Melissa completed the swim in 16:11 just two hours before a huge thunderstorm hit Toronto. This was the fifth fastest time in history by a female swimmer. and only one hour off the women's record.
Brannagan had been a competitive swimmer on the Brock varsity swim team from 2001-2005, team captain in her last year, and a high school swim team member and captain before that.
Brannagan was also a competitive soccer player from 1994-2001 and cross-country runner 1998-2001. She regularly competes in triathlons throughout the summer months. She was winner of the Repko Cup as Windsor and Essex County's most outstanding female student-athlete (2001) and was named Female Athlete of the Year of her high school (2001).
Brannagan said. "I did the easy part. My crew and the people behind the scenes made this swim happen for me."