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Kingdom Swim 2013 Recap

Young Blood Storms Kingdom Swim
Geezers Remain Defiant of Time's Toll

LAKE MEMPHREMAGOG, VERMONT - Move out of the way Rondi Davies, John Humenik, Joe Sheehan and David Dammerman, the young turks are taking to marathon open water swimming, storming Kingdom Swim with record setting times, and are taking home the walking sticks.  Meanwhile, swimmers are continuing to sign on for Swim the Kingdom, with 7 days of swimming over 9 days from August 10 through August 18 (Including the Willoughby Swim).  For more information and on-line registration for one or more days click here
At the Fifth Annual Kingdom Swim, Eric Nilsson, 26, of Weston, MA, captured the title of World Open Water Swimming Association's 10 Mile World Champion.  He posted a record setting time of 3:38:36, fending off a determined challenge by 17-year-old, Feodor Orlov, of Dublin Ohio who posted a time of 3:43:51.  Nilsson's kayaker was volunteer, Sandy Lincoln, and Orlov's volunteer kayaker was Rob Geisler, who kept a remarkably true line through the course and almost caught Nilsson as they approached Buoy 7 on the home stretch.  Third place in this first year of the World Championship went to Andrew Pulsifer, 47, of Ashville, NC who posted a time of 4:08:56 and was escorted by Emily Pulsifer.  On behalf of all of us over 40, we want to thank you, Andrew, for placing.
Among the females, Kristin Jones, 23, of Juneau, Alaska (pictured above)claimed the walking stick, hand carved by beloved local pediatrician, Bill Peck, with  a winning time of 4:05:45.  She was challenged by our 2011 Queen, Emma Otto-Moudry, now 18, of Ithaca, NY with a time of 4:19:99 and Dani Stein, 26 of Saratoga Springs, NY.  They were supported by kayakers, Elizabeth Otto, Don Houghton, and Gail Stein, respectively.
And so it is that five of the six, bringing home World Championship Woodals are 26 and under.    Looks like the days are gone when the 30 and 40 somethings dominated the times at Kingdom Swim.
Times and photos are now posted at  
But, as much as we celebrate youth and speed, it is The Geezers who showed some amazing grit and determination, repeatedly raising their fists in the face of reality.  Outright defiant, they are.  Makes us DAMN PROUD to know them and be one of them.  Take Paula Yankauskas, age 58, a vet from Hyde Park, VT.  She's been involved with our swims for years, always with a smile, always with her wet suit.  This year, she decided to swim skins in the World Championships, trained for it during Son of a Swim and completed the 10 mile course in 6:17:16.  The look on her face as she exited the water -- the gritty, Clint Eastwood like smile, almost like she was spitting on the line in the sand, saying something like, "Done with you!"  A great article about her in The Daily News of Open Water Swimming

And, another one of our favorite geezers is 71 year old Rob Madell, perennial winner of The "Most Mature" Award at Kingdom Swim.  The man STARTED marathon open water swimming in his late sixties, qualified for his first 10 mile swim EVER when he was 67 and has been "rounding the islands" on our ten mile course on a yearly basis ever since.  Rob also was winner of the Cobra Kayak.  The Daily News tells his story as well.   
One way or another, our "mature" swimmers will not be kept out of the water.  Take 63 year old Meredith Moore, feisty pirate from Naples, FL.  Her crew of T2O swimmers are now regulars - part of the Kingdom Swim family.  She suffered a recent injury, but remained undaunted, moving from the 3 mile to the 1 mile distance.   Meanwhile, her friends and teammates put down their fishing poles long enough to crank out some totally impressive times in the three mile course, led by Bruce Mohl (67)(wet suit) with a time of 1:10:04.   All in all, 3 Kingdom Swimmers are age 70 or older, swimming 1, 3, and 10 mile distances.  And, if you count them up, 52 of our registrants are 50 or older.  Totally inspiring. 
And, speaking of the one mile - How about Phoenix Swimming from the Andover, MA area?  We will never again start the adults ahead of the "kids" in the one mile course.  Not with speedsters like  Brian Poon posting a blistering time of 16:59 and his teammates - Isaac Walker, Joseph Turk, Andrew Gillie, Aiden Walsh, and Liam Walsh - finishing not far behind.  And that was after we had instructed them to respect their elders at the start (which they did).  An impressive showing by the 28 (yes count em 28) girls and boys of Phoenix Swimming, spreading it out from the ¼ mile to the 6 mile course   They crushed the competition for the largest out of area team, winning some Viking helmets, kazoos, and a free entry into one of our swims in August.
Swimmers came from 28 states, including Alaska, two Canadian provinces, Ontario and Quebec, as well as London, UK, to compete in the Fifth Annual Kingdom Swim and the first WOWSA 10 Mile World Championship.  We want to specially thank Steve Munatones and the folks at WOWSA for their support of long course marathon open water swimming.  Memphremagog is a big lake, with highly variable conditions.   The course is beautiful and challenging with long stretches without buoys or guides.  Navigation is a key part of the race, which is why the event lists and recognizes the kayaker with the swimmer.
This year, Memphregagog provided near perfect conditions although the wind picked up at times and the subtle currents were always ready to challenge even the best navigators. 
About 175 swimmers took part in one of the six courses (10 Mile, 6 mile, 3 mile, 1 mile, ¼ mile and 100 yard.)  Ages ranged from 7 to 71. 
Out on the water, the swimmers were supported by volunteer civilian patrol boats led by Acting Rear Admirals, Bruce and Karen Lippens of Newport Center, as well as the State Police, Newport City Police, Fish and Wildlife, and Border Patrol.  Eric Miller, Dispatcher for the City of Newport provided the command central with Newport's mobile unit at the beach.
Major underwriting for Kingdom Swim and the 25 days of running, biking, swimming, and kayaking hosted as part of the Kingdom Summer Games 2013 is provided by Jay Peak Resort and North Country Hospital.  Other sponsors include, Community Financial Services Group, Passumpsic Savings Bank, Northeast Delta Dental, The EastSide Restaurant, Town of Derby, Derby Village Store, and the City of Newport.
Special thanks to Andy Cappella of the Newport Department of Parks and Recreation for his hard work hosting us at The Gateway Center on Friday evening and Prouty Beach on Friday and Saturday.
The swim raised $1,850 for North Country's Patient Care Initiative Fund.  The winner of the Cobra Kayak was 71 year old swimmer Rob Madell of New York City.  Mina Elnacash  of Cambridge, MA won a guided swim from Alcatraz to the San Francisco piers.  Heather Greene of Garden City Kansas won a slot in Ned Denison's Swim Camp in Cork Ireland.   And Eric Anderson of Madison, WI won an entry into the Arizona S.C.A.R. Challenge organized by  Kent Nicholas, a 10 mile Kingdom Swimmer in 2012.
Next up on NEKOWSA's schedule is a 25 mile kayak expedition the length of Lake Memphremagog on July 27th, Lake Seymour Swim on August 3rd and Aquaman Even Up Triathlon that same date, all as part of Kingdom Triathlon, followed by 7 days of open water swimming over the course of 9 days on August 10 through 18th.  The swimming season closes with the Third Annual In Search of Memphre, a 25 mile swim the length of Lake Memphremagog on September 7th.  For more information about these swims, see
Special thanks to Erica Sheckler from PA for volunteering as head timer when ours became unavailable and for Alex DeRoehn for his steady work on "the box" throughout the day.  And to Meg Norman for taking charge of our Food Court when our beloved Mamma Lee became unavailable and for all the volunteers who "dished it out" all day.

And of course, to Julie Gunn for her great return to help us set up and start our long course races EXACTLY on time, which is a "ready or not" tradition we are proud to continue.

And to Kristian Pearson for stepping up as Assistant Race Director and running the show on the beach.  A battle hardened veteran of five years of running biking and swimming events, Kristian's diligence, attention to detail, ability to go with the flow, and to organize the muscle that makes the tables and chairs, boards and signs, woodals, clay rocks, T-Shirts, jerky, and maple syrup just seem to appear when they are needed.  And to Peter Channell for his quiet and steady presence and willingness to take on any task.  And to Howie for his persistent smile, even when he's hauling tables and chairs out of The Clubhous garage.

And, of course, thanks to Newport Natural Café for providing some of the best chili this side of Amarillo, to Jed's Maple for the waffle mix, to Beth Barnes for her home made scones (not to mention her wonderful work as Kayak Coordinator and Swimmer Safety Flag manufacturer), and to Beth and Dave Bouffard at the Derby Village Store for the burgers, dogs, sausages, and lunch meat and salad fixings that  made this year's Food Court just the best ever.  And to Mamma Lee for the best Mandarin Salad ever.  Sick as she is, it was great to see her on the beach, salad in hand, always there with a big hug.

From all of us at Kingdom Swim - Thanks for joining us and bringing your high spirits and kick butt attitude to make for a great celebration of open water swimming in the heart of the summer, in the heart of The Kingdom. 

Phil White, Director
Kingdom Swim 2013

Post Scripts

A note from our cherished waffle makers Roger Raboin and Marie Gagne Raboin

Phil and Beth - Roger and I had a great time making waffles on Saturday along with numerous other tasks - teamwork all the way!  Those waffles are great tasting and loved by all. The only complaint that we received is that they should be ready early as in by 9AM or thereabouts.   Count us in for further waffle duty whenever needed.  The crew in "kitchen central" were pleasant and fun to work with and we enjoyed many laughs while getting the job done so it really wasn't work at all.  The food was fabulous, an almost never ending supply.  A day like Saturday makes me look at Newport with fresh new eyes, taking pride in our gem of a lake.

BTW, Saturday was our 50th wedding anniversary and we chose to spend it in a fun way by giving back to this beautiful community. Life is good!

Roger and Marie

One last report, and then I get to go swimming.

This year, for the first time, Kingdom Swim added an "Assisted" category in addition to skin and wet suit.  The decision arose out of a request by Victor Yannessa. a 57 year old from Jenkintown, PA.  Victor completed the 10 mile course last year but injured his neck this past year.  He can only swim with a snorkel.  Kingdom Swimmers are family to us.  When Victor explained his circumstances, we decided to add the category.  And we're glad we did.  Victor completed the 3 mile swim in 1:41:12 and is now on course for our 5 mile Willoughby Swim in August and our 10 miler next year.

But once we opened the "assisted" category, we received two requests to be allowed to swim with fins.  And we decided to try it, in the spirit of inclusiveness.  As long as it doesn't disrupt the competitive side of the swim, we want to provide the opportunity for all open water swimmers to celebrate summer in our lake.  And so, swimming beside Victor was Christian Miles, age 58, of Washington, DC with a time of 1:35:47 and Barbara Schwartz, age 57, of Sarasota FL posting a time of 1:39:57.

We told the fins not to show off and go crazy.  And both Barbara and Christian promised to behave.  We are glad they joined us and pleased that our celebration of swimming has become accessible to a whole new class of swimmers.