Newport, Vermont and Magog, Quebec â€“ On the weekend of the 10th anniversary of 9/11, 11 extraordinary marathon open water swimmers undertook the 25 mile international, cross border swim the length of Lake Memphremegog from Newport to Magog. They were supported by 21 yackers and 12 boat pilots and crew.
The expedition was organized and hosted by the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association and IROC and was sponsored and outfitted by Newport Marine Services, Clyde River Recreation, and Great Outdoors.
The expedition, known as In Search of Memphre, was intended to promote a more open border with Canada and to search for the elusive lake creature Memphre. Participants, their friends, family, and employers raised over $26,000 for Indoor Recreation Orleans County, a community center in Derby, VT, which is presently fighting for its financial survival.
Four swimmers completed the swim: Elizabeth Fry of Westport, CT, finishing in a time of 13 hours and 25 minutes. Close behind her was Charlotte Brynn of Stowe, VT, with a time of 14 hours and 40 minutes. Greg Oâ€™Connor completed the 25 miles in a time of 17 hours and 23 minutes. And Elaine Kornbau-Howley finished in just under 18 hours with a time of 17 hours and 58 minutes.
â€śThis was tougher than crossing the English Channel,â€ť said Elaine Kornbau Howley, who was the first to sign on for this invitational swim just a month ago.
Swimmers faced strong headwinds from the north, especially during the first four hours of the swim, forcing many swimmers to pull out. All but one, however, hung in for at least the first five miles in order to assure that they crossed the border.
Michel Dubois of Canadian Customs arranged with the organizers of In Search of Memphre for pre-clearance of the participants at The Gateway in Newport. They were very helpful and very supportive of the resumption of a cross border swim. U.S. Customs received the participants back also at The Gateway.
The border was ours for a brief moment in time. It felt great to watch these athletes, their yackers and the patrol boats cross past the border buoys in the middle of the night. Westmore Fire and Emergency Rescue led the way through the night with a beacon that allowed swimmers and their yackers to sight on as they swam north.
We were truly humbled and honored to support this wonderful, high spirited group of marathon swimmers, yackers, and support. Their fundraising prowess was awe inspiring. Their endurance in some tough conditions was incredible to experience. And their exuberance is contagious.
While Memphre remains elusive, we thank Barbara Malloy for her support of this swim, In Search of Memphre.