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Monday, August 29, 2011

Meet the Swimmer Scouts

Over the next couple days, we will be introducing the swimmers and other players involved with the In Search of Memphre Tour. Today's installment includes Emma and Bill, who represent two ends of the swimming spectrum and Elaine and John, two east coasters who are firmly in the center of the age spectrum for this event.

William Shipp, 51, Mitchellville, MD
Attorney
Bill lives in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. with his wife and two daughters. He is a relative novice to marathon open water swimming having completed the Kingdom Swim 10-mile event in 2010 and 2011. He has also completed the 4.4 mile Great Chesapeake Bay Swim five times and has competed in numerous other open water swims in the Washington/Baltimore region.
 
A traditional pool swimmer, Bill competed in age group swimming as a youth and swam for Herndon High School in Virginia. He attended George Washington University on a swimming scholarship and graduated in 1982. He then proceeded on to law school at GWU as well. After college, Bill took a several-year hiatus from the grind of swimming, and after a few failed starts, returned to swimming in earnest in his early 40s. Initially competing only in USMS pool competitions at the local and national level with the Terrapin Masters swim team, Bill thought that open water seemed like a strange and foreign pursuit. After becoming affiliated with the Arundel Breakfast Club in Annapolis, Maryland, Bill found the club’s love of open water infectious and eventually signed up for the Great Chesapeake Bay Swim. Since his first Bay swim, Bill has been hooked on open water swimming and has found the challenge of the open water and camaraderie among the fellow swimmers to be irresistible.

Bill will be attempting this swim on the weekend of the one-year anniversary of his diagnosis with prostate cancer. “A year ago I had completed a very successful indoor swimming season, swam the Chesapeake Bay swim four times and stepped up to swim my longest open water swim ever, The Kingdom 10-mile. In August we dropped our first daughter off at college and everything seemed to be going along just fine. Life was good,” he says. However, a routine physical in September that included some abnormal lab results became a game changer: Bill had prostate cancer. In otherwise excellent health, Bill’s prognosis for full recovery was good and he underwent surgery in January. He immediately set some goals for his recovery. I knew the Spring swim meet season would be lost but even before I left the hospital I determined I would complete my fifth crossing of the Chesapeake Bay in June and then travel to Vermont in July to do the Kingdom 10-mile swim again. 

“For me it was incredibly important to have a goal to shoot for. The Kingdom Swim is a great event that provides a first class open water swimming opportunity for hundreds of swimmers. More importantly it raises money for an incredibly worthy cause. The IROC programs that provide health and wellness support for those in need are critically important. Those with heart disease, cancer, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis and other potentially debilitating conditions need the comfort and helping hand of their family, friends, and community. With the support of IROC these people can take charge of their lives again and achieve their goals, whatever they may be.

“I am honored to be invited to swim in the search for Memphre but more importantly, I am honored to know folks like Phil White and the many volunteers that work so hard with IROC to serve the community.
When he is not swimming in chlorine or river water, Bill is a partner in the law firm of O’Malley, Miles, Nylen & Gilmore specializing in land use and zoning law

Emma Reade Otto-Moudry, 16, Ithaca, NY
High School Student (11th Grade)
Emma is a brand-new open water swimmer who is beginning to make a big name for herself right out of the gate. At just 16 years old, she is by far the youngest swimmer scout in the group this year. She swims for the Lansing CATS, a club team in the USA Swimming system and first tried open water swimming in the summer of 2009. She was instantly hooked.

In addition to setting the course record for the 4.75-mile Lake Willoughby Swim in August 2011, Emma has also taken part in the around Manhattan Island Marathon swim as part of a four-person relay in 2011. She is also scheduled to swim the 17.5-mile Ederle Swim from Sandy Hook, NJ to Manhattan on October 1st.

Emma loves “the wildness and the beauty of open water swimming, and the challenge. Swimming for a cause while you are doing something you love is powerful.” As such, the water is her medium for service; she helps to coach the youngest swimmers on her team as a volunteer, has been a volunteer lifeguard for Ithaca Hospicare’s Women Swimmin’ event on Cayuga Lake, and is fundraising for Swim Free in conjunction with her Ederle Swim in October. She is delighted to be taking part on the 26-mile event, which will be her longest solo swim yet.


Elaine Howley, 33, Waltham, MA
Writer
Elaine Howley (Waltham, MA) is recognized by the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame as the co-world record-holder (with fellow swimmer scout Greg O’Connor) for the fastest Boston Light “Double,” a 16-mile out-and-back swim across the Boston Harbor (between L-Street and Little Brewster Island).  She became the second female to ever complete the course on August 12, 2010 in 7:07:48. Her swim broke the 41-year-old record by 2 hours, 23 minutes.
Elaine completed the “Triple Crown” of open water, marathon swimming in 2009 by successfully completing swims around Manhattan, NY (28.5 miles); Catalina Island to the California mainland (21 miles); and the English Channel (21 miles).
Elaine has also completed swims of varying distances and difficulties including a 41K in Lake George, NY; the 10-mile Kingdom Swim in Lake Memphremagog, VT; a 12.5-miler in Key West, FL; and a 2.4-miler in 48 degree water in York, ME. All without a wetsuit.
Elaine attempted a 50-mile swim in Narragansett Bay, RI in July 2011 but was thwarted by conditions and sea life, managing to complete 27 miles in about 15 hours. That swim was a fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and raised more than $10,000 for blood cancer research. Elaine lost her younger sister to Leukemia in 1986.

Elaine currently lives in Waltham, MA where she works as a freelance writer and editor. She is a frequent contributor to SWIMMER magazine and espnW. Learn more about Elaine at her website.

John Humenik, 36, New York, NY
Airline Pilot
John learned to swim early on but retired from pool races at the ripe age of eleven. After a long period of aquatic inactivity, he eventually discovered the joys of open water swimming in 2006. John enjoys swimming events around New York City, where he lives. He is an active member of the CIBBOWS group. The longest swim he’s completed to date is a 36-mile, two-day section of the week-long, multi-stage event 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim in July 2011.  He also won the inaugural Kingdom Swim 10-mile event and considers Lake Memphremagog to be one of the loveliest places to swim, but only “when there’s no wind.  And if the water’s not too cold.”

Out of the water, John is a connoisseur of fine marzipan and a creator of excellent cheescakes. He’s  also distinguished by his inability to gain weight, despite feasting on these two food items.  As an airline pilot, John tends to fly places, and he’s also been known to knit some mean pairs of mittens as prizes for local ocean swim races.

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