She has survived swimming the English Channel and the 2008 financial crisis as an investment banker — but now Lynbrook High School graduate Roberta “RC” Saint-Amour is up for the ultimate challenge, as a contestant on CBS’ hit reality competition, “Survivor: Philippines.”
“I got a phone call, and I must have asked about five times if they really did know who they were calling, because it was so shocking,” said Saint-Amour about finding out she was chosen to be on the show. That initial phone call came last October, and after a few other steps, including a phone interview and an in-person interview in Los Angeles, Saint-Amour was told to pack her bags for the Philippines.
The show started filming in March, and Saint-Amour and her 17 cast members were away from their friends and families for two months during filming. The 18 “Survivor” hopefuls, who are each competing for a $1 million prize, were divided into three tribes at the outset: Kalabaw (water buffalo), Tandang (rooster) and Matsing (monkey). Saint-Amour became a member of the Tandang tribe, but said it was difficult to connect with her fellow tribe members because they each came from such different walks of life.
“You no longer have the support system of your family,” she said, “you can’t talk to them or tell them what’s going on, or have anybody who you could really truly trust out there. To not have my family was ultimately the hardest part for me in the whole experience.”
She and her family are very close, she said, and share an accomplishment that not many others can claim: swimming the English Channel. The youngest of three, Saint-Amour comes from a family of swimmers. In 2009, she and her father, Craig and sister, Melissa swam the English Channel relay style, alternating swimming every hour. Craig said the length they swam was close to 21 miles, but due to tides and winds the total distance was approximately 26 miles. “It was fun, but it was grueling,” he said.