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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Meet the Swimmer Scouts!

Just days ahead of the 2nd Annual In Search of Memphre Tour, we'd like to introduce this year's field of swimmer scouts who have accepted the challenge to swim the 25-mile length of Lake Memphremagog while looking for the elusive Memphre. In no particular order, we are pleased to host the following intrepid swimmers this coming weekend:

William Shipp, 52, Mitchellville, MD
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 the last three years;  the 4.4 mile Great Chesapeake Bay Swim several times; and the Potomac River swim.
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.
This will be Bill’s second attempt to complete the Memphre search. Bill was part of the scout team for last year’s swim but did not complete the full swim.  A cancer survivor, Bill puts his swimming experience in the Kingdom in perspective this way:
“In the fall of 2010, everything changed for me. When one gets the news that you have cancer it is almost a surreal experience. One day I was enjoying my the results of my best indoor season as a masters swimmer and my first Kingdom 10 mile swim and the next moment I was a 50 year old guy with prostate cancer mapping out treatment options. My story is a happy one however, as we caught the cancer early and after surgery in January, 2011, I was on the path to full recovery. During my recovery, I discovered some organizations in my area that largely through volunteer efforts provide wellness and support services for cancer patients, survivors and their families. Having people simply extend a helping hand and providing encouragement as you let your body heal and you deal with the emotional stress of a serious medical condition is invaluable. There truly is no better calling than people caring for at risk folks in their community. It is what defines us as a community, as human beings. Through my experience as a receiver of cancer support services here in Maryland, I suddenly realized the incredible value of IROC and the Healthy Changes Initiative.  People with chronic medical conditions such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis or living with and hopefully recovering from serious illnesses such as cancer or heart disease are fighting every day to maintain their quality of life. Mostly they push on in anonymity with people in everyday life not even being aware of the struggle they are facing. Sometimes each of us needs a hand to help us fight on, to lift us up, to reinforce our value, to give us respite. You never know when or how you may be the one needing help.  That is why having a program such as the Healthy Changes Initiative is so important. “
“For me it was incredibly important to have a goal to shoot for. The Kingdom Swim and the Search for Memphre provide a first class open water swimming opportunities for all participants. More importantly the events raise awareness and funds 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 managing partner in the law firm of O’Malley, Miles, Nylen & Gilmore specializing in land use and zoning law

Aurora Gore, 29, Libertyville, IL
Aurora Gore started her swim journey not in the normal way. Gores says " I never swam as kid on a swim team, high school, or even college. I took up marathon swimming three-and-a-half years ago. I remember just doing one lap in the pool at a time and taught myself to swim freestyle watching YouTube videos. I completed my first open water swim in 2009 and place third in my age group. I then when on to complete two other one-mile open water swims that year. I was hooked. I then set my sights on competing in 10k nationals. That was when I found my coach Craig Strong. He had extensive swim background coaching division one swimming for women’s college. He saw something in me that I didn’t see and was pushing me to swim the English Channel. I completed nationals and place second in my age group. That’s when things turned and I trusted in this crazy idea. So on Sep 23,2011, I completed my English Channel crossing in 14 hours, 10 minutes. Now my plans are to complete the Triple Crown with the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and a Catalina Channel crossing.  I feel very lucky to get to swim this 25-mile swim from Canada to Vermont, with such highly successful marathon swimmers. I plan to keep swimming and see where things take me. I now coach open water swim in my free time for my coach. This all feels like a dream. I never thought my life would take this turn. I am excited to see wear this goes the next few years."
Lori Carena, 58, Brooklyn, NY
I entered my first swim race at the age of five at the Castle Hill Beach Club in the Bronx, N.Y. By the next summer, I could put my head in the water and I was off.  Due to my father's love of swimming and my mother's willingness to serve dinner at least two times on swim nights, I swam with my sister about four times a week with the Yonkers YWCA, until senior year in high school.  I swam in college for NYU for four years, without working too hard, as I was also on the basketball and tennis teams.  While I kept swimming 1-2 times per week, it was not until I turned 40, and my three sons were more independent, that I started to swim in the open water.  My swimming practices and my longest swims have increased over time.  I have done the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim as a solo, twice, but not at the same time, Ederle while it was still cold, the Rose Pitonoff 17-mile swim from 26th Street to the Coney Island Pier, which I won, and the Swim Across the Sound was on my to do list this year, but it was not to be because of adverse weather conditions.  I have done the 10-mile Kingdom swim up here in the most beautiful lake (Memphremagog) where you can touch the sky, or so it seems.  I hope to complete the 25-mile swim, In search of Memphre.  It is a bit of a stretch but you don't know, if you don't try.
I currently work as an Administrative Law Judge for the State of New York.  I am 58 years old and I hope to swim for the rest of my life, not necessarily all at once.

David Barra, 47, High Falls, NY
David Barra, 47 lives with his wife Clare in High Falls, NY. He grew up in Brooklyn, and worked his teenage summers as a lifeguard at Coney Island.
Barra has been competing in open water swimming events since 1998 and has focused on long distance for the past several years. In 2010 he completed 7 of the 30 “World Swimming Majors” events including the Maui Channel, the Tampa Bay Marathon Swim, the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS), the Catalina Channel, the Boston Light Swim, the English Channel, and the Ederle Swim.
In 2011, with co-director Rondi Davies, Barra introduced the first annual 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, a 120-mile/ 7-stage swim event (the longest in the world!). He attempted to be the first person to complete the swim but fell a couple of hundred yards short on stage 5… bested by the flood tide.  With Rondi Davies and Coney Island Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS) he brought a 5k swim race to the Hudson River in Poughkeepsie with the 2 Bridges Swim, and will host a USMS 10k National Championship event in 2014.
In 2012 Barra started his open water season in Arizona. On May 4-6, he and training partner Janet Harris joined the first two legs of the SCAR swim series and the fourth leg of the 6-lake challenge completing 3 consecutive days of 9-10 mile swims. He swam stages 3 and 5 of 8 Bridges on June 27 and 30, La Traversee du Lac St Jean solo on July 21, Vidosternsimmet 21K on August 4, and Plymouth to Provincetown (once again with Janet Harris) on August 21. On September 8 ,  Memphre will be his third swim in 8 weeks equal to or greater than 20 miles.
Barra has been a participating coach/guide for Total Immersion’s open water swim camps in the Bahamas, Hawaii, and St John since 2006, and has recently joined SwimVacation as a guide. His newest business:  Swimmer Safety Services was established to provide guiding with a highly visible escort for solo swimmers and to provide logistical support for swim events.

Liz Fry, 53, Westport, CT
The most accomplished swimmer scout in the group, Liz Fry is something of a legend in open water swimming circles. The five-time solo crossing veteran of the English Channel achieved a major pinnacle of open water swimming earlier this summer by completing a grueling 24-hour double crossing of the English Channel. She undertook this amazing swim in the same season as her historic “Double Ederle,” a first-ever round trip swim between Sandy Hook, NJ and New York, NY. Liz also holds the record for the fastest clockwise circumnavigation of Manhattan Island—a battering swim going against the swift currents of the East, Harlem, and Hudson Rivers that she completed in 2010. A Catalina Crossing in 2005 puts her on the list of Triple Crown achievers, and some of her other off-the-beaten track swims have ensured her good standing in the annals of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame’s extensive record books.
This open water distance powerhouse is also the director of the St. Vincent’s Medical Center Foundation’s Swim Across the Sound, a premier, 25K-long open water event that sees upwards of 100 swimmers crossing the treacherous expanse of Long Island Sound every summer.
David Dammerman, 43, Saratoga Springs, NY 
Swimming changed for David the day he pulled through the water and actually moved somewhere.  So began long summer days at the Y and winter evenings at nearly every pool in Connecticut.  David swam competitively through high school at Fairfield Prep and at Hamilton College.  Ending a half-hearted attempt to continue swimming after college with US Masters, David steered clear of the pool for a number of years.
After moving to Saratoga Springs, NY three years ago, David found a group of early morning swimmers who gave him the boost he needed to come back to the pool regularly.  When spring came, they introduced him to the open water, and he was hooked on longer distances and lower temperatures.  
David swims with Adirondack Masters and directs the annual Betsy Owens Memorial One- and Two-mile Swim event in Lake Placid and helped develop a program to introduce young swimmers to the pleasures of open water swimming.  He won the 10-mile Kingdom swim event in 2011.
In his professional life, David manages Great Mountain Investment Associates, an investment company focused on real estate transactions other private investment opportunities.
Jennifer Dutton, 43, Wayland, MA
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 Kingdom 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.

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