PORTLAND – Pat Gallant-Charette is not your average memere.

But nine days after becoming the oldest American woman to swim across the English Channel, she was back on babysitting duty.

“Back to normal,” she said Wednesday as she pushed her two grandchildren in a stroller along the Maine State Pier.

Gallant-Charette, 60, of Westbrook, flew into Boston from England on Tuesday. As she got off a bus in Portland about 5:30 p.m., some two dozen friends and family members flooded out of the Concord Trailways station, clapping and cheering.

With sirens sounding from their cruisers, Portland police escorted her entourage from the bus station to the city line in Stroudwater, where Westbrook officers took over and led her home to Methodist Road.

She walked in her door to find a bag of letters, including one from U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, congratulating her on the accomplishment.

Then there were the 2,500 emails from around the world and the 100-plus comments on her blog.

“I was very touched by their response,” she said.

On Aug. 22, some 15 hours and 57 minutes after setting off from Shakespeare Beach in Dover, England, Gallant-Charette touched a cliff at the point of Cape Gris-Nez in northern France, ending a record-breaking 28-mile swim. Before then, the oldest American woman to swim across the channel was 59.

Gallant-Charette expected the swim to take about 18 hours, but relatively calm conditions at the start enabled her to stay on a straight path across about half of the channel.

The beginning of the swim, however, didn’t come without challenges.

A tailwind carried exhaust fumes from the fishing boat that chugged alongside her, carrying two English Channel officials and four members of her family. About an hour in, Gallant-Charette started feeling nauseous.

“I had dry heaves so bad, I thought the town of Dover would be able to hear me,” she said Wednesday.

Her boat crew, which included two of her nephews, her brother and his wife, used a pole with a cup attached to the end to pass her crystallized ginger and flat soda to help with the nausea.

The sickness eventually subsided, and Gallant-Charette put her focus back on the purpose of her swim.

She dedicated every mile to someone who inspires her, and the boat crew held up signs with their names. There was her neighbor, a young mother who’s fighting a brain tumor, and a wheelchair-bound boy with a relentlessly positive attitude, whom she knows through a friend.

She thought about those people while she swam and, after about 11 hours, she had just a mile to go.

That’s when the conditions began to worsen. The waves got bigger and bigger, and started coming from all directions. “It was like swimming in a washing machine,” she said.

When Gallant-Charette made her first attempt to cross the channel, in 2008, her crew pulled her back onto the boat within two miles of the French shore because she had spent about four hours swimming without making any progress. This time, the crew knew not to do that.

“I told my boat pilot I didn’t care if it took me 28 hours, I wasn’t getting out of that water until it was an official swim,” she said.

So she pushed on, taking stroke after stroke for more than four hours without getting any closer to France.

“She was just bulling through the heavy waves. Her persistence was just incredible,” said her brother, David Gallant.

All of a sudden, she broke through.

It was about 8 p.m. in England — 3 p.m. here — when Gallant-Charette touched the cliff in France, out of sight of everyone but an English Channel official who cheered her on from a dinghy. He relayed the news through a walkie-talkie to the boat pilot, who sounded a horn. That’s how the boat crew knew.

“We couldn’t believe it. We were just jumping up and down and screaming,” David Gallant said.

They got back to England three hours later, after what Gallant-Charette described as “the boat ride from hell,” which caused her to vomit “well over 100 times.”

During the next few days, the group visited London, where they rode on a double-decker bus and saw Big Ben. At the BBC’s studio, Gallant-Charette was interviewed by National Public Radio host Scott Simon.

And now, it’s back to normal — at least what’s normal for Gallant-Charette.

Today she returns to the Barron Center in Portland, where she works four days a week as a registered nurse for patients with dementia.

On Monday, she’ll be at Pine Point Beach for her first swim since crossing the English Channel. The two-week break will be the longest she has taken since she started training for the Peaks-to-Portland swim as a tribute to her brother Robbie, who died from a heart attack at the age of 34. That was 14 years ago.

All of Gallant-Charette’s swims are dedicated to Robbie. That’s why it meant so much to her to have his son, 16-year-old Chris Gallant, as a member of her boat crew.

“I’m just glad she could do it while I was there,” said Chris, a junior at Cape Elizabeth High School.

He hopes to ride alongside his aunt on future swims, particularly one she plans in New Zealand.

Gallant-Charette’s next stop is California, where she plans to swim 21 miles through shark-infested water from Catalina Island to Long Beach in October. If she completes that swim, she will be the oldest woman in the world to have done so.

“Catalina, to me, is the big one,” she said.

Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at 791-6364 or at:

[email protected]