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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Countdown to Memphre 2013

T-minus 10 days and counting...

And on this day, we had some news from our other favourite lake monster across the pond, Nessie.

More locally, Abby (the beast of Aberwystwyth who's on permanent vacation in Waltham 'cause all the sea serpents and lake creatures like to chillax in Eastern Mass) is anxiously awaiting a rendezvous with Memphre in a little over a week's time. Think Pinky will let her on the same boat? Time will tell...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

2013 Swimmer Scouts Announced!

In Search of Memphre III
September 7, 2013

To support their fellow Swimmer Scouts
To search for our elusive and beloved lake creature, Memphre
To serve as ambassadors of peace in the promotion of a more open border
To support charitable causes

Lake Memphremagog, VT – The Northeast Kingdom Open water Swimming Association (NEKOWSA) is very pleased to introduce our expeditionary force of Swimmer Scouts of 2013. Each and every one of them is an accomplished marathon open water swimmer. But, they are more than that. Each brings something special to The Search. We welcome them as they embark on this journey In Search of Memphre. We love their stories involving their personal discovery of open water swimming and their support of good charitable purposes.

Sarah Thomas, 31, from Conifer, Colorado

Sarah is a triple crown marathon swimmer, having swum around Manhattan Island, and crossed the English and Catalina Channels. Most recently she became the first person ever to “double cross” Lake Tahoe, a swim that totaled 44 miles. Describing herself, she says:

"I’ve been a competitive swimmer since I was 7, but I was never all that fast- just really good at swimming for a long time without getting tired. When I first discovered open water swimming in 2007, it was like finding where I belonged in the world. Finally, there was a place where my ability to just keep swimming was actually good for something. Open water swimming is what I love to do- it makes me happy. The Catalina Channel in 2010 was my first realization that I can do more things than I ever dreamed, and it’s been an amazing journey since then. Through swimming, I’ve met some incredible people and discovered parts of myself I never knew existed. I feel blessed every day to be able to do what I do."

Sarah’s escort crew is Ryan Willis, also of Conifer, CO, and Bill Shipp of Mitchellville, MD. Shipp is a  finisher of the 2012 Search, staunch supporter of open water swimming in the Kingdom, a proud member of the Crabby Nation in Maryland, and a dyed-in-the-wool Guinness drinker. Sarah works in Human Relations for HealthSouth, a rehabilitation hospital in Colorado.

Humphrey Bohan, 38, from Medford Lakes, NJ 

Humphrey “discovered” open water swimming in 2006 with a “splash and dash” at a local state park. Since then he has successfully completed The Little Red Light House Swim (5.85 miles) in 2009 and 2010, The Boston Light Swim (8 miles) in 2009, and The Ederle Swim (17.5 miles) in 2012 This 25 mile swim will be the longest open water swim of his life. In his words:

"I have committed to moving from regular open-water swimming into marathon swimming. My resources are somewhat limited right now, so I have been focusing on swimming opportunities in the US, although I plan to do the English Channel within the next 4 years. In looking at the 10-mile Kingdom Swim, I saw the description of In Search of Memphre and am excited to swim it. It looks like a fantastic personal challenge, a breathtakingly beautiful course (no offense to the Hudson River or Jersey shore!), and a great charitable opportunity as well.  
"I was a competitive pool swimmer for most of my childhood, competing in longer and longer distances until finally competing in the 1650 free and 400 IM at YMCA Nationals. After college, I started doing some Masters swim meets as an excuse to stay in shape, but didn’t have the same enthusiasm about pool races that I had had as an age-group swimmer. Then, in 2006, the state park near me had some informal splash-n-dash races (1/2 mile lake swim, 5K run) that I tried, and I followed that up with my first 1-mile ocean swim later that summer. I was shocked at how well I did, and how much more I enjoyed swimming out of a pool. So for a couple of years I did more splash-n-dash races, until finding out about NYC Swim and entering the Little Red Lighthouse 10K in 2009. Training for that (the first time I had ever really trained in open water), and then swimming that race up the Hudson River and under the George Washington Bridge, inspired me. I had finally found what I wanted to do athletically. 
"So beginning the following summer, in 2010, I started entering every open water race I could, and looking for longer and longer distances. I moved from 5Ks, to 10Ks, to Boston Light, and then to Ederle. And now, I’m excited to go from those swims into a whole new territory of swimming, of doing more extreme distances and really pushing myself to another level."

Humphrey’s escort crew will be of Don Houghton of Craftsbury, VT and Gary Golden, of Colchester, VT. Humphrey works as a Systems Engineer at Lockhead Martin in Moorestown, NJ.

Bethany Bosch, 29, of Wallingford, VT 

Bethany is a veteran 10 mile Kingdom Swimmer participating not only in 2011 but also 2012. She raised over $1,000 for IROC and was one of the high fundraisers in 2011, raising even more in 2012. She crewed for last year’s Search, and has been to two sessions of Ned Denison’s Long Distance Swim Camp in Cork, Ireland. Recently, her swimming partner, 3-year-old chocolate lab, Guri Bosch made history with her 5 mile end-to-end swim of Lake Willoughby on August 17th. This will be Bethany’s longest marathon open water swim.

"Of all of the places in the world that one could swim, it is both inspiring and wonderful to have such a beautiful, long distance swim right in your backyard. Being a part of this swim, that does so much to benefit the people of Vermont, would be both a privilege and an honor. 
"I want my life, everything I do, to make a difference in this world – to have an impact and purpose beyond myself. Of all of the things I have tried and all of the accomplishments I’ve attained, swimming is the one thing I have found where making a difference in people’s lives through the funds I raise and doing something extraordinary is easy and seamless. Swimming is always an adventure; but the best part of it is that no matter the conditions or outcome, good has been done. That’s what makes every swim so incredibly worthwhile."

Bethany’s escort crew consists Natalie Boyle of Rutland and David Dammerman of Saratoga Springs, NY (who is a veteran Kingdom Swimmer himself and the fastest Swimmer Scout in The Search last year. Bethany works for a consulting firm that provides construction inspection for AOT.

Robert Fernald, 46, of North Hampton, NH

Robert has completed a number of marathon swims in recent years, including Boston Light (8 miles) in 2010, 2011, and 2012 and Kingdom Swim (10 miles) in 2011 and 2012. He has been training this summer with longer swims, but the Search will be the longest of his career.

"What draws me to Memphre, and the events is the stories and people behind the event and history. Swimmers way up that far north? It is great. It takes a special kind of people to hold events like you do, for the benefit of others.

"As my swimming came along with endurance distances, goals came to mind. I framed them initially as “between things.” Between island and mainland, between islands and between countries is on the list. When I swam Kingdom Swim in 2011, I had a good swim. I felt strong, like I had more.

"During the Kingdom Swim, I kept present in my stroke, and since the surface weather/conditions were less than exciting, I thought about Memphe and I started looking for her. I was thinking what if… then, every shadow and blade of grass was a part of the legend. Then the race was over. So I would like a longer time to look!

"As far as my swimming is concerned, this event will help me go beyond my next limit. I have plans of other longer swims around the world, but Lake Memphre is just a few hours away.

"I have always liked to give back (good parents), especially with my time. Self-sacrificing some would say. I coached approximately 1,000 marathon runners as part of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training Program for about 8 years in the late 90s and 2000s. Since then, I've contributed a lot of event-level volunteerism as race support or race director for a few local charities.

"I am part of the board of directors of Save the Indoor Portsmouth Pool here in Ports, NH. The short story is that the city was going to close our pool due to budget cuts. In true NH fashion, a few of us grabbed our sickles and torches and marched on to the city council meetings. We were able to convince the city to try a new operating plan that lost less money. We agreed to mutual goals for cost reduction and price increases. In the end, the program was a success. The city of Portsmouth gave us a no-cost five-year lease, and we are in the process of raising capital to improve the facility.

"My interest in swimming and with saving the pool led to a volunteer role as an open water swim coach with the local pool. The program geared specifically for open water swimmers, and 45 people signed up in January. We still hold a 90% attendance rate and have a growing population of triathletes and open water swimmers in the area."

Robert’s escort crew will be Karil Reibold of North Hampton, NH and John MacMahon of Exeter, NH, with an alternate, James Fernald of Portsmouth, NH. Robert runs a Customer Experience support operation for Whaleback Managed Services in New Hampshire.

* * *
Each swimmer is accompanied by a 16.5 ft aluminum boat powered by a 9.5 hp motor with a caged propeller. These boats are rented from La Traversee in Magog, QC. Swimmers are provided with transponders so that their progress can be followed by friends, family, and the general public.

Four larger power boats are also involved in support. They include Karen and Bruce Lippens of Derby piloting their own boat. They are Kingdom Swim veterans, volunteering to support the swim each year since it started in 2009. Alec van Zuiden, Mayor of Ayer’s Cliff, QC will be piloting a pontoon boat volunteered for service by Fran and Melanie Azur. Elaine Kornbau Howley, of Waltham, MA, a triple crown marathon swimmer who completed the 25 mile distance in 2011 will also be crewing as will Pamela Ladds, of Newport, who regularly escorts swimmers at our events. Rich Douglas will be piloting a pontoon boat supplied by Newport Marine Services. Phil White will be piloting his boat, Pinky, as central command, with assistance from Erica Sheckler, of Emmaus, PA and Kristian Pearson, of Derby, VT.

Swimmers depart at midnight from either Newport or Magog (depending on which way the wind is expected to blow). Depending on weather conditions and the natural swimming speed of individual swimmers completion times have varied from about 11 hours to 18 hours in the water.

The course from MacPherson Bay to Magog, the second half of the swim.
It's such a long lake, we need two pages to show all 25 miles of it.

The beginning of the course from Newport to MacPherson Bay, about 13 miles.

New Funds Recipient for 2013 In Search of Memphre

For those of you who had not yet heard, the IROC center that all funds from previous Kingdom Games events-- including the much beloved and storied In Search of Memphre ultra-marathon swim-- supported closed earlier this summer. Below is some information from Phil White, former Executive Director of the center on the sad day the center lost its fight against foreclosure and what comes next.

See, there's some good news here, too. Every ending brings a new beginning, and thus begins the collaboration between the Kingdom Swim, Run, and Triathlon events in Newport, Ver., and the North Country Hospital Patient Care Initiatives Fund. 

With much regret and a deep sense of sadness, we receive some early words that our beloved community center has been purchased and that the new owner does not intend to continue its current use. Lots to say and feel, but I will say just this. Thank you to the thousands who joined the journey to try to save this precious asset. For myself, I know I am a better person for having fought this fight and for the friendships I have made along the way. Some causes are worth spilling blood for. I’d do it again, I would.

But, our community has many needs and today we turn our focus to support another local cause that supports local patients in need – The North Country Hospital Patient Care Initiatives Fund. We are a rural, economically challenged area. When patients discover that they have cancer and need treatment their travel expenses alone can be a huge barrier to treatment, even when they have insurance to cover the treatment itself.  Patient Care provides gas cards to those in need. Drugs and supplies often come with high patient co-pays or are uncovered all together. Patient Care helps to provide payment for some of those costs for those unable to cover them.

Wendy Franklin, at NCH, fields the requests from nurses, patient care coordinators and social workers and helps allocate the scarce resources from the fund.  In her words:
Just last Monday, I received a call from a nurse who was seeing a patient in our oncology clinic with just a few more trips needed in their course of treatment, and was unable to fill their gas tank to make the journey to Norris Cotton Cancer Center  - North in St. Johnsbury. North Country Hospital’s Patient Care Initiatives Fund was able to assist due to our generous donors. Another cancer patient the same day was able to receive mastectomy supplies not covered by insurance with assistance from the fund. 
Our providers know this fund can be a resource for patients who need gas cards for extensive travel.  Even with a local dialysis center, the three times per week necessary  for dialysis treatment creates the need for travel.  Other ways the fund has been there to directly help patients is covering costly pharmaceutical co-pays, and/or the prescription itself.  In many cases this has been the difference between a patient not moving forward with treatment and then being able to thanks to the cost being covered.  For diabetic patients without insurance, the fund has assisted with meal planning tools, special dietary meal bars, and other necessary supplies.  The fund also helps in the lease of wheel chairs, walkers, or the purchase of splints and compression stockings for patients without insurance.
All money raised by donations by our Kingdom Swimmers and Swimmer Scouts taking part in the In Search of Memphre event after July 1, 2013, will be given to NCH’s Patient Care Initiative Fund. 100%. And all of this money (100%) in turn will go directly to help local folks in need of just a little help as they face some daunting challenges.  No administrative costs will be deducted. Nothing sent to distant shores. Just a helping hand to a neighbor in need. The Vermont way.
We don’t have much time between now and In Search of Memphre, but donations are still coming in and for that we are grateful. 

Join the Search by Donating NOW!