BELTON — Maj. Tiffany McQueen serves at Fort Hood as a veterinarian with the 43rd Medical Detachment Veterinary Service Support, 21st Combat Support Hospital, 1st Medical Brigade.

Her love of swimming has earned her the nickname “Swim Gypsy.”

McQueen has traveled across the country — from San Francisco to Vermont — participating in open water swim events ranging from one mile to over 45 miles in length.

In 2016 alone, she participated in 29 open water swims from January to December.

Earlier this year, the World Open Water Swimming Association named her one of the World’s 50 Most Adventurous Open Water Women for 2017.

The list is compiled in no particular order and “includes contemporary aquatic adventurers who have done unprecedented swims of note or a significant number of risk-inherent channel, lake or marathon swims, women who have proven themselves in ice swimming competitions and solo extreme swims, and women who have safely escorted or coached many swimmers of various abilities in rough waters,” according to the organization’s website.

McQueen’s adventurous nature includes risking an encounter with alligator gar in area lakes.

She swam 10 kilometers in Belton Lake on Thanksgiving, raising over $1,200 for Killeen’s Food Care Center.

Last Friday, McQueen acknowledged she was sore after the swim, but sore in a good way.

“We couldn’t have asked for more perfect conditions,” McQueen said of her swim. The water was calm and the air temperature not too chilly.

McQueen started and ended her swim at the Dead Fish Grill. The restaurant was open for Thanksgiving and had information about the swim for diners to see.

Customers contributed $130 toward the cause.

Another $575 was raised on McQueen’s Facebook page.

The Dead Fish Grill matched $500 of those donations.

McQueen’s husband, John, provided safety support from a kayak.

The most exciting life form encountered was a deer on the lakeshore, McQueen said.

McQueen had previously raised $500 as part of “Will Swim for Food,” a California-based effort to support food banks, while she was stationed at Fort Irwin, California. When she transferred to Fort Hood this past summer, she decided to raise funds for a local cause.

McQueen is grateful to everyone who contributed. “I didn’t think it would be so big. The support of the Dead Fish Grill made it a lot more fun.”

She has hopes that another event can be planned for next year. “I’d like to get some other swimmers or kayakers involved,” she said.

The funds raised will be presented to the Food Care Center in the coming weeks. | 254-501-7568

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