06/19/2013 01:59 EDT | Updated 08/19/2013 05:12 EDT

Dayna McKay's 'Into The Sea Cancer Free' Swim Aims To Inspire Youth

PRINCE RUPERT, B.C. - A First Nations grandmother living on B.C.'s north coast is literally diving into the fight against cancer, with a 60 kilometre swim through frigid ocean waters between Prince Rupert and her village of Lax Kw'alaams.

Dayna McKay is no stranger to the challenging currents, powerful tides and unpredictable swells of the North Pacific, because she swam the route last summer, but in reverse.

The 44-year-old has dubbed this leg of her Into The Sea Cancer Free trek as The Journey Home, reflecting her commitment to the battle against all cancers and her support for her uncle, Bill Sampson, who is diagnosed with the disease.

McKay's original journey from Lax Kw'alaams south to Prince Rupert spanned two days and required a dedicated support crew, and she expects her return swim will also be a nearly 24 hour marathon.

The mother of four and grandmother of two intends to dive into waters off Prince Rupert at 6 p.m. on June 28, and — with the help of a 7mm full body wet suit, fins and a support crew of five boats — plans to reach her home shore by 1 p.m. on June 29.

McKay hopes her journey will not only raise awareness about cancer but will also help First Nations youth understand that anything can be accomplished through hard work and desire.

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