By Beth Treffeisen
Now back into the grind of daily schoolwork, Tancrede Roy, 11, is busy finishing his last school year at Kingsley Montessori School in the Back Bay. But only months before he was across the Atlantic Ocean and getting ready to swim across the Strait of Messina in Italy.
On July 27, Tancrede became of the youngest swimmers to cross the Strait of Messina, a narrow passage between the eastern tip of Sicily and the western tip of Calabria in the south of Italy.
Along with both of his parents, Isabelle and Stephen Roy, he accomplished the little over two-mile trip in one hour and seven minutes.
“It wasn’t about the performance but the accomplishment,” said Isabelle.
During the swim, Stephen said they had to avoid a lot of obstacles, such as fisherman harpooning for swordfish. That meant there were probably sharks nearby because they are their predators.
They also had to time it correctly, to dodge giant tankers that go through the channel.
Along with accomplishing this feat, Tancrede raised about $16,000 for an Italian charity that serves developmentally challenged children.
When he reached the coast, some of those children were there to cheer his family on and held a sign saying “Thank you Tancrede!”
He was also presented with a gold metal that was presented to him by the Italian coast guard to commemorate his achievement.
He was originally inspired to help raise money for other children when he would travel to see his allergy doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital. During his visit he realized how many other children needed more help than he did, and it just hit that he wanted to do something for these other children.
Tancrede starting training for this event last February and March, where he made a schedule to swim about five miles a week.
“He couldn’t even swim 25 yards before he decided to do this,” said Stephen.
During training, Isabelle said, there were times that they would be practicing out in Pleasure Bay and be wondering, “What are we doing here?”
But Isabelle said, “We are happy that we trained well enough.”
Right now, Tancrede is focusing on applying to junior high school and enjoying mathematics at school. For his next big journey, Isabelle said that he would probably think more about it in the spring.