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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Meet the Swimmer Scouts Part II

This morning's offering of swimmer scouts includes two-thirds of our MetroWest Boston contingent, Greg and Jen, as well as our New Zealander.

Greg O’Connor, 42, Natick, MA
Cancer Researcher
Greg began swimming during the summer months off the southern shore of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, later becoming a competitive swimmer for the local YMCA, high school team, and Gettysburg College. “I learned how to manage my time and focus on goals during these years in the pool,” Greg says. “The skills and discipline that I gained early in life have helped me at work and play in my adult life.”

Over the past six years, Greg has continued to challenge himself with progressively longer and tougher swims. Beginning with the 8-mile Boston Light Swim, an event he now directs, Greg has progressed up the ladder of open water swims.

In August 2010, Greg broke the 41-year-old record for the fastest 16-mile out-and-back swim of the Boston Light course along with fellow swimmer scout Elaine Howley.  Prior to their swim, only four people in history had successfully completed the double crossing, and Jim Doty’s 1969 record of 9 hours 30 minutes had stood the test of time. Swimming side-by-side, pacing each other, the duo ended up shattering Doty’s time with a new record of 7 hours 7 minutes.

Following the Boston Harbor record swim, Greg attempted his first channel crossing, completing the Catalina Channel in 9 hours 26 minutes and qualifying for the 28.5-mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, which he successfully completed in June 2011 in just 8 hours, 21 minutes.

Greg, who is a cancer research scientist,  has also felt a strong need to give back to the community. He’s volunteered during the MIMS event in 2009 and 2010, became the race director of the annual Boston Light Swim beginning in 2009. “I have put together a committee of accomplished athletes, and we have brought the event into the 21st century,” Greg says. “In the future, we plan on forming a non-profit association that will sanction and assist swimmers in attempts to swim out to Boston Light and back, a 16-plus-mile feat in sub-60 degree water.”

Jennifer Dutton, 42, Wayland, MA
Swim Coach
Jennifer Dutton is a local swimming icon in MetroWest Boston. Nearly every swimmer you speak with from club team 8-and-unders on up to 60-plus-year-old Masters swimmers have either been coached by her or inspired by her perseverance in a sport that doesn’t always love her back.

Jen says she had an “unremarkable” high school swimming career in Connecticut, but planned to swim at college. But during her freshman orientation, she sustained a brain injury and struggled with everything at college. She dropped swimming for good, she thought, but managed to complete her degree.

However, the siren pull of the water brought her to Candlewood Lake in 1986, where she completed a 10-mile swim for “purely social reasons.” A few years later, she decided to give ocean swimming a go and completed the Boston Light Swim seven times between 1993 and 2004. Her 1997 BLS swim was most memorable because she was pregnant at the time. “I didn’t know I was pregnant when I started the swim, but figured it out as I went along,” she says. She returned in 1998 while still breastfeeding and competed again right after the birth of her second child in 2000. “The Boston Light Swim will always will have a special place in my heart because I have done it so many times,” Jen says. “It was different each time and it marked many events in my life.”
Jen has also completed the 10-mile Kindgom Swim twice, in 2009 and 2010, as well as a 17-mile swim in Lake George and a 15-miler in Morse Reservoir. She does all this while suffering severe sea sickness in virtually every swim she does, a residual effect of the brain injury she suffered as a teenager. Despite this uncomfortable situation, Jen still trains upwards of 24 miles per week and has conquered a range of health issues relating to both the brain injury and an underlying heart condition. “I swim to prove to myself that I can,” she says.

Jen has always wanted to swim the length of Lake Memphremagaog. “I have been putting a lot of training in for distance the last couple of years, and I am excited to do a long lake swim in the Northeast Kingdom, which has been a part of my life as long as I can remember.” Her parents now live in the Northeast Kingdom.

Charlotte Brynn, 45, Stowe, VT
Non-Profit Executive Director and
Fitness Instructor
Charlotte Brynn is the “resident alien” of the swimmer scout group. Born and bred in New Zealand, she was “lured to Vermont by love” in  1998 by her third-generation Vermonter husband. She is now the Executive Director of The Swimming Hole, a non-profit community pool and fitness center in Stowe, Vermont. She is also a personal trainer, group fitness, spinning, and kranking instructor, and coach of the Stowe Masters workout group

Charlotte has always been drawn to the water. She grew up just a mile or so from the ocean in New Zealand and when she wasn’t in the sea, you could probably find her in a nearby lake or pool instead. Charlotte raced while in school and during her college years in triathlons.  Recently, she has enjoyed open water swimming events and training and is currently working towards a solo crossing of the English Channel scheduled for the summer of 2012.

Charlotte is excited to be taking part in the Lake Memphremagog swim because it is promoting open water swimming, health and fitness, and because it involves “a talented and good-natured group of swimmers led by Phil White. He is unstoppable with regard to doing good things for people, and I would LOVE to cross the border swimming!” She also says her purpose is to “light the fire in me so I can light the fire in others. I am committed to helping others improve their overall health and fitness. Whether it be through instruction, coaching, guidance or inspiring others, whether one-by-one or making an impact on a community or state, the important thing is to encourage those around us. We are all different, whether it is swimming in Lake Memphemegog or making the goal of walking 20 minutes each day to start exercising— it is all fantastic.”

Charlotte recently won the 8-mile Boston light Swim event for the women with a time of 3 hours 6 minutes and 50 seconds. She also won the Lake Willoughby swim in 2010 and came second to Emma Otto-Moudry in 2011. She has also completed a 16.4-mile double crossing of Lake Champlain in 8 hours, 30 minutes, 49 seconds, which is her longest swim to date and her first long night swim. “I was excited to swim from Vermont to New York and back again. Once I finished and climbed into the boat, the highlight of the whole adventure was seeing my crew and pilot so thrilled and having so much fun,” she says.  

Charlotte was named a USMS All-American Distance Swimmer in 2009, and says her most exciting swim was the Golden Gate Bridge to Aquatic Park swim held in March 2011 in San Francisco, CA. “The water was 53 degrees, and it was exciting seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz while I was swimming, not to mention the sea lions and dolphins.

1 comment:

  1. I love swimming! When I was a child, it was the only sporting arena I excelled in. Still enjoy it now, but do find lengths in an indoor pool can get a bit monotonous. Wish there was a lido nearer to where I live (for the summer months anyway).
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