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Kingdom Swim 2011 Recap

July 9, 2011

Newport, VT - 179 swimmers and 155 kayakers from as far away as Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico, and Great Britain took to the waters of Lake Memphremagog, in Newport, Vermont on Saturday,  July 9th, 2011 as part of the Third Annual Kingdom Swim, hosted by Indoor Recreation of Orleans County.    

24 states, Canadian  provinces, and countries  were represented:  Alaska (2), Connecticut (4), DC (4), Florida (2), Great Britain (1), Hawaii (1), Illinois (1), Indiana (1), Louisiana (1), Massachusetts (42), Maryland (11), Maine (2), Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), Mexico (2), New Hampshire (21), New Jersey (4), New York (28), Ontario (3), Pennsylvania (6), Quebec (1), South Carolina (1) South Dakota (1), Vermont (41)(half from out of area, half local).
Many participated enthusiastically in the Frontier Animal Society’s Pet and Swimmers Parade on Friday evening and witnessed the Grand Return of Memphre, our beloved lake monster.   She led the parade, surrounded by IROCKETS and other youth swimmers.  Bill Shipp and the The Crabby People from Maryland were back in force, with their red, felt crab hats and Arundel Breakfast Club banner.  The Glen Lakers and Team Swimful Thinking were also all bannered up.  Seeing the Alaskan flag marching down Main Street was a real treat.   The pets, the wonderfully dressed up pets, marched with pride and in great numbers.  The Swimming Spaniel of 2009 was back, this time looking a lot like Jimmy Buffet. 

The Swimmers and Yackers kazoo and pennywhistle marching band was totally disorganized and absolutely glorious.  326 swimmers, yackers, “boat people”, and volunteers, with family and friends, enjoyed a great pasta dinner prepared by Montgomery’s Café under the tents at The Gateway immediately following the parade.  The winners of the Jimmy Buffet look-a-like contest were announced: Judy Graham-Garcia and her yacker (husband), Adam Nisson.   Jeff Prezch of the Bus Drivers and Southern Comfort bands put down some fine music during the dinner.  The wind was calm -- another glorious evening on the shores of Lake Memphremagog, in the heart of the summer in the heart of the Kingdom.

But it all turned at about 2 am the next morning and Saturday brought us a day of adventurous, rolling, open water swimming at its best.  With the return of our beloved lake monster, Memphre, in the Pet and Swimmers Parade, it seemed somehow appropriate that Lake Memphremagog showed her wily, unpredictable ways and many moods, all in the course of 12 hours. 

First, thunderstorms, rain and wind during the night stirred up the deeper water and dropped the water temperature by as much as four degrees.  The storm blew several buoys miles from their proper spots. (Herding buoys at 5:30 am with our safety officer Monica Maghini was a new part of the swim for me.   By the way, the lake is beautiful at that time of the morning.)  Wind and waves picked up during the morning, blowing many swimmers and their kayakers well off course on the long stretches.   Many swimmers loved the 2’ to 3’ rollers, driven by a strong northwest, Canadian wind as it hit Derby Bay.  For kayakers it was as tough (and as exhilarating) as any whitewater excursion.   But, although there was a threat of thunderstorms, they never materialized.  By the time the 10 milers started returning and the short course swims started in the afternoon, it was sunny and pleasant.   Pilots of the patrol boats and kayaks out to support the one mile swim, could smell the waffles and burgers being cooked on the beach by IROC staff and volunteers for the participants and their families.  And the sounds of Kingdom Dixie provided a festive mood to the beach throughout the day.  It was as if the windy, cloudy and threatening morning never happened.  Oh, Memphremagog!!

Under sunny skies and light winds a new King and Queen of Kingdom Swim were crowned
David Dammerman, age 41 of Saratoga Springs, New York, escorted by Adam Batista, a volunteer yacker, won the 10 mile non wet suit male division with a time of 4:28:10 which was also the winning time for the event, male and female.  But the surprising and wonderful shocker of the day was 16 year old, Emma Otto-Moudry from Ithaca, New York, escorted by another volunteer yacker, Don Houghton. Swimming her very first 10 mile swim in a time of 4:41:07, she captured First Place among the women in the non wet suit division.   Her mother said that she is not the fastest on her team in the pool.  But she powered her way through the 10 mile course.  In the years to come, I think we’re going to see a lot from this remarkable young, open water swimmer.  David and Emma were presented with hand carved walking sticks by local “stick master” Bill Peck.  Bill is married to a minister.  “I came up with this year’s design during one of Martha’s sermons,” he sheepishly admitted several months ago.  Winners in this and other categories also received cedar wood medals prepared by Papa’s woodcrafts, beef jerky from Breault’s Meat House in Troy, and maple syrup from Couture’s Sugar Shop and B&B.

While the award ceremony was underway at beach side, Bethany Bosch, 26, of West Rutland, VT, the last ten-miler, returned and crossed the line in the sand, to a standing ovation by participants.  She finished in a time of 7:43:28, winning the Last One Back to the Barn Award given to that swimmer who most demonstrates the “fist in the face of reality” attitude so prevalent among residents of the Northeast Kingdom. The award – a complete set of autographed works to date by Howard Mosher.   Bethany was also the high fundraiser for the event, collecting over $1,200 from friends and family in support of IROC’s Healthy Changes Initiative and winning a place in Ned Denison’s Swimming Camp in Cork, Ireland.
John Aman, from Honolulu, Hawaii won the award for the furthest travelled to the event - Kingdom Swim apparel of his choice.  James Penrose of London, England challenged the ruling.  On appeal, it was decided that both cities were a heck of a long distance away and way beyond our capacity to count.  So the decision was overturned by the “rules committee” (after James bought me a drink at the EastSide during the appeal) and it was declared to be a tie.  James, take your pick from some fine Kingdom Swim threads!!  Thanks so much for the travel.  And thanks to the man from Honolulu.  When participants come from as far away as Fairbanks, Alaska, Honolulu, Hawaii, Cuajimalpa, Mexico, London, England and Mumbai, India, it is fair to say that Kingdom Swimmers now span the globe.  Might even be said that the sun never sets on our hearty band of Kingdom Swimmers. 

The prize for the largest out of area team went to 17 raucous Glen Lakers from Goffstown, NH and their 12 kayakers.  They each won 2 for 1 ski tickets at Jay Peak.  Watch out, Bill, Steve, and Rob, they make the Capital One Vikings look like pussycats.

And 69 year old, Rob Madell, was back after last year’s successful 10 mile swim to do it again and once again claim the prize for “the most mature” 10 miler.  The prize - A driftwood log and an autographed copy of Paul Lefebvre’s Perimeter Check II to match Rob’s copy of Perimeter Check I which he received last year.  Looks like Paul is going to have to keep publishing sequels as long as Rob decides to return to defend his title.

Special note: The Arundel Breakfast Club, consisting of some of those Crabby People from Maryland, cleaned up on the “woodals.”  Bill Shipp claimed 3rd Place in the men’s, non wet suit, 10 mile swim.  Alison Meehan took 1st Place in the women’s, non wet suit, 6 mile swim.   And Ali Hall took 1st Place in the women’s, non wet suit, 3 mile swim.  Must be something in their breakfast that needs checking.  Double doses of maple syrup each morning goes a long way.

One of the most wonderful parts of the day was to see so many youth swimmers stretching themselves and accomplishing so much.  In addition to Emma’s feat in the 10 miler, 3 local IROCKETS took on the 6 mile swim, with Kristina Gavin, age 14, of Newport, VT winning the youth division and coming in in the middle of the pack among all ages.  And, Eli McFarlane, age 15 of Newport, won the youth wet suit division in the 6 miler.  Adam Lodewick did not finish, but should be commended for his effort.  We know he’ll be back.  All three deserve high praise for moving from the 3 mile course up the ladder to the 6 mile course this year.  Six youths (local and out of area), with ages ranging from 11 to 17, competed in the 3 mile distance.  And there was some fine and fast swimming in the one mile by 13 year old James Phelan of Essex, MA and 11 year old Alex Dimarzio of St. Johnsbury, VT.   The ages of all swimmers ranged from 6 to 69.

The swimmers also gave a standing ovation to their Yackers for quite a remarkable bit of work on the lake.  3 or 4 kayaks rolled.  But the Memphre Patrol Boats were able to right them and get them back on their way. 

Which brings up the remarkable work of the support boats and governmental fleet out on the water.  All in all, 15 swimmers were pulled with various forms of hypothermia, cramps, and sea sickness, as well as one case requiring emergency room care (she’s fine and with high praise of our emergency response and medical care).   Many others received support and directions from our steady and increasingly battle hardened and experienced boat patrol.  Our support system was tested and it held.   We have learned to have more blankets and warm clothes at the ready out on the lake.  But, with that said, the support under these  rolling and challenging conditions was a wonder to watch.

And, of course, this was a fundraiser for IROC’s Healthy Changes Initiative.  All in all, we raised over 29,217 from donations by swimmers, yackers, and support boats.  Wow!  Can’t begin to tell you all how much that means.  Thanks, so much.  And we also raised another $2,000 or more for Memphremagog Watershed Association and many other charities designated by volunteer yackers and patrol boats.  

Thank you prizes given to high fundraisers included an entrance to Ned Denison’s Swim Camp, a guided swim by Swim_Art from Alcatraz to a restaurant of your choice in San Francisco, a Jay Peak Season Pass, a four pack of lift tickets at Jay Peak, a 200 gift certificate, a pair of snow shoes and poles donated by Louis Garneau, a bat house donated by Papas Woodcrafts, and entry into next year’s Kingdom Swim, a year’s membership at IROC, and various Kingdom Swim apparel.    

Our Third Annual Kingdom Swim is now in the books.  Memphre has been sighted and our lake’s playful ways and mischievous personality is now known to all.  

Thanks so much to all of you --  swimmers, yackers,  Julie Gunn and the IROC staff and volunteers, the members of our Organizing Committee, Memphre “Boat People”, governmental and emergency rescue boats and all of the many, many sponsors who helped make this swim possible.  Thanks for your high spirited camaraderie and for joining us for another wonderful swim on the Kingdom’s Great Lake, Lake Memphremagog.

And of course, some really special thanks to Ned Denison of Cork, Ireland and Leslie Thomas of Swim Art in San Francisco for your wise guidance in this grand adventure. 

Phil White, member
Organizing Committee
Kingdom Swim