Cornerstones Staff & Resident Participate in Annual Peaks to Portland Swim to Benefit Kids
Portland, ME: The Peaks to Portland Swim to Benefit Kids is one of the oldest open water swims in the world. Since the 1920s, thousands have braved Maine’s Casco Bay each year to swim the 2.4 miles from Peaks Island to Portland’s East End Beach. Cornerstones’ Program Manager, Fred Poisson, and one of our current residents participated in the event this year which ultimately took place virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions. Participants were allowed to swim at their own pace in any desired water they choose – pool, lake, or ocean, to allow for distancing.
Training for the Cornerstones’ duo began in February, a cold winter month in Maine where the daily high temperatures are regularly below freezing. Between weather meant for hibernating and emerging from a year of COVID restrictions, the idea of swimming multiple times per week seemed daunting to the pair. And the challenges were only beginning. The participating resident immediately questioned his ability and confidence in being able to complete the process after just the first swimming session. “I was only able to do five laps that day, and I wasn’t satisfied. I was devastated, actually. I expected to do so much more, or at least not tire so quickly. Fred helped me to process these feelings and simply said that I was psyching myself out. I wasn’t giving myself any time to grow.” says the Cornerstones resident.
The resident returned for the second scheduled training session and the third and eventually started independent swims, proudly texting Fred with their lap numbers from the day. The pair incorporated mindfulness techniques into training to shut off outside thoughts and focus only on the present and moving through the water. They added running into the regimen as well, meeting twice a week in the early mornings. Running was another way to strengthen their bodies, and exerting intense physical energy helped them release any anger and frustration they were feeling.
The swimming partners successfully completed the Peaks to Portland Swim on July 30 with 106 laps totaling 3 miles and swimming nonstop for close to two hours. Their training efforts allowed them to exceed the 2.4-mile goal but also left a lasting impression on their daily lives. “I am so happy that I ended up sticking with it. It showed me what I am truly capable of. If I don’t give up on myself and work towards a goal, I realize that I can do great things.” says the Cornerstones resident. And as for Fred, “Every year I grow a bit as well. I learn from each of the people I train with, and I push myself to become a better coach and a more balanced individual.”
About Cornerstones of Maine: Cornerstones of Maine is a clinically-driven transitional living program designed to assist men, women, and gender-nonconforming young adults (ages 18 to 28) in their journey to becoming independent. Through transformative therapeutic work and individual and group support, our residents work towards independent living. Our individualized program includes professional development, academic re-engagement, and character-building experiences that teach a myriad of skills and create pathways for successful life habits. These experiences, along with enrichment opportunities, promote emotional growth, personal value, and life purpose.