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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

6 Swimmers Set to Participate in the 4th Annual In Search of Memphre Swim on Sept. 6

Marathon Swimmers gear up for In Search of Memphre, on September 6th, 2014 – a 25 mile international swim between Newport, VT and Magog, QC

LAKE MEMPHREMAGOG, VERMONT AND QUEBEC. August 27, 2014 - An accomplished group of six ultra-marathon open water swimmers have sets their sights on completing the 4th annual In Search of Memphre swim on September 6, 2014. Hailing from Solana Beach, Calif., Denver, Colo., Bel Air, Md., Hyde Park, Ver., New York City and Piermont, New York, this motley band of tough swimmers will traverse the 25-mile length of the lake between Newport, Ver., and Magog, Quebec while searching for the elusive and swimmer friendly lake creature, Memphre, and to promote a more open border between U.S. and Canada. The swim was launched in particularly difficult conditions in 2011, making this the fourth year that an expeditionary force of open water “swimmer scouts” has teamed up to join The Search. 

We respect the hard work undertaken by border officials to protect us in the face of changing threats around the world. But we also want to do everything we can to promote a more open border for law abiding friends, family members, and neighbors. In addition to The Search, Kingdom Games hosts two bike rides across the border and around Lake Memphremagog in June and September. It organizes The Great Skate in February between Newport and Magog and partners with the Fondation Christian Vachon in the Relais du Lac Memphremagog, an 80-mile running race around the lake.  This year, Kingdom Swim added a 15-mile “Border Buster” swim around Province Island. Swim the Kingdom Week in August includes a 9-mile swim the length of Lac Massawippi. “We love and hate the border,” says White. “We love the diversity and cultural differences so close by, and we have many, many Canadian friends. But we hate the fact that it is a barrier to so many who will never get a passport, enhanced license, or NEXUS card. Any chance we get to organize an event that crosses the border, we jump at. It brings us closer, and, we applaud our local border officials who have been terrific, working with us to facilitate crossings,” he says.

This year’s Memphre swim starts at midnight on the evening of September 5th and continues through the day on Saturday, September 6th, 2014. The group of hardy swimmers will swim with the wind, if possible, and make the final call as to the direction of the swim at 8:00 a.m. on Friday morning. Each of the past three years have involved extremely windy and challenging conditions during at least part of the swim. During the first three years of this swim, eleven swimmers have completed the crossing while nine have failed to finish because of the difficult and variable conditions. The full list of past finishers is below.

Swimmers are expected to comply with generally accepted channel crossing rules. They don’t use wetsuits or double caps (for warmth) and they can’t hang onto their escort boats. Each is accompanied by a pilot and one crew member in a16-foot aluminum escort boat with 9.5 horse power engine with a caged propeller, which are rented from La Traversee du Lac Memphremagog. This year’s expedition is also supported by three larger motorized patrol boats that will sweep the course to monitor safety and assist the swimmers and their crews as necessary.


Three of this year’s Swimmer Scouts have significant ultra-marathon open water experience.

Mo Siegel. (62, Piermont, NY) Mo Siegel has completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming (Catalina Channel, English Channel, around Manhattan Island) and is a member of the “Half Century Club” for finishing a solo crossing of the English Channel after age 50. He participated in the 2013 S.C.A.R. Swim Series in Arizona and became only the sixth person to complete the 20-mile cross-Cape Cod Bay Swim between Plymouth and Provincetown, Mass., which he finished in 2013. In his professional life, Mo is president of Ice Air, LLC and is a member of the board of directors of SwimFree, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to the health improvement of children and adults through swimming.

Graclyn van der Byl. (36, Solana Beach, CA) One of the speediest swimmers ever to set foot in Mighty Memphremagog, Grace van der Byl is the current Catalina Channel record holder (island to mainland, 7:27). She is also one of only three swimmers to have completed all seven stages of the annual 8 Bridges Hudson River stage swim, which she did in 2012. She won several stages of the 2013 S.C.A.R Swim Series in Arizona, and won the inaugural 15-mile Circumnavigation Challenge around Cape May, N.J. in 2013. She also won the 2014 around Manhattan Island Marathon Swim hosted by NYC Swim. She participated in a 228-mile relay swim along the California coast in August, 2013, with the Night Train Swimmers and is consistently ranked as an All-American and Top 10 swimmer in U.S. Masters Swimming pool competitions. She works as a swimming coach and instructor.

Craig Lenning. (35, Denver, CO) One of the most accomplished cold-water marathon swimmers in the sport today, Craig Lenning recently became only the third person in history to complete the arduous 30-mile crossing between the Farallon Islands and San Francisco. He has also completed five of the Ocean’s Seven swims—the Catalina Channel, the Tsugaru Channel, the Cook Strait, the English Channel, and the North Channel. He was the first American to successfully cross the North Channel when he completed that very cold swim in 2011. In 2013, he became the first male swimmer to complete a 44-mile double-crossing of Lake Tahoe, and in 2015, he will travel to Scotland to swim the 23-mile Loch Ness, hopefully becoming one of the first swimmers to complete the Triple Crown of Lake Monster Swims. He’s also a certified ice swimmer and participated in the 6-Day Bering Strait Relay, which won the 2013 Open Water Performance of the Year Award from the World Open Water Swimming Association. When he’s not swimming, Craig works in IT.

Three others are taking on the longest non-current-assisted challenge of their lives.

Paula Yankauskas. (60, Hyde Park, VT) Paula has been “on the stretch” for the past few years. A veteran Kingdom Swimmer in the 10-mile course, she signed on for all of NEKOWSA’s swims in 2013 and shed her wetsuit for the 10-mile WOWSA world championship. She was named NEKOWSA Swimmer of the Year for her extraordinary year. An Arizona S.C.A.R. swimmer in 2014, she came back to Vermont and did the 15-mile Border Buster without a wetsuit in preparation for this year’s Search. One of three swimmers to complete all of Swim the Kingdom Week’s 8 lakes and 45 miles in early August. Paula is a veterinarian by trade. She’s trained and ready for the biggest stretch of her life.

David Uprichard. (48, New York, NY) David outgrew his upbringing in the world of triathlons and became a serious marathon open water swimmer in 2011 when he completed the 6-mile course of Kingdom Swim in 3:16:35. That year he also completed two other 10K swims in New York Harbor and in Bermuda Around the Sound. He fell in love with the 5-mile Lake Willoughby race, which he has completed every year since 2011. He graduated to the 10-mile Kingdom Swim course in 2012.  He’s a regular at the Little Red Lighthouse Swim hosted by NYC Swim. As for Paula, 2014 is the year of “the stretch” for David. On June 14th, 2014, he completed the 28.5-mile Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in 8:17:20. He was an inaugural 15-mile Border Buster at this year’s Kingdom Swim. David is a naturalized U.S. citizen who was raised in England with a strong streak of Scottish ancestry. David is trained and ready for the toughest swim of his life.  

Franco Prezioso. (48, Bel Air, MD) Franco turned from the golf course to the water course in 2008 and has never looked back. Way overweight at the time, swimming has had a huge impact on his life, his health, and his outlook. His swim coach, Kevin Jaubert, is a “lifer” at Kingdom Swim, having participated in the event every year since 2009. He introduced Franco to the 10-mile course. In 2013 Franco did the 27-mile END-WET swim in North Dakota and completed the 15-mile “Border Buster” Swim at Kingdom Swim this year. “He’s unflappable,” says coach Jaubert. The 25-mile Search will be the longest non-current-assisted swim of Franco’s life. 


Lake Memphremagog has been identified as one of the 50 greatest open water swimming venues in all of the Americas by the Daily News of Open Water SwimmingOpen Water Source has selected In Search of Memphre, The Willoughby Swim, and Kingdom Swim as three of the top 100 open water swims in the United States. In Search of Memphre is now one of the Triple Crown of Lake Monster Swims, that includes Lake Tahoe, Memphremagog, and Loch Ness.


The swimmers who have successfully completed In Search of Memphre in previous years are:

Liz Fry
Charlotte Brynn
Greg O’Connor
Elaine Kornbau Howley

David Dammerman
Bill Shipp
Jen Dutton
Lori Carena
Aurora Louise

Sarah Thomas (first ever double crossing)
Bethany Bosch

For more info about the swim or for contact info for particular swimmers, contact Phil White at:

Here are some of the better pics from the past two years. 

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