A Great Weekend for Open Water Swimming in the Northeast Kingdom.

At Willoughby III, 23 swimmers and 23 “yackers” took to the water from North Beach, swimming south for burgers and fresh picked corn on the cob waiting for them at South Beach (East). The Willoughby Swim started in 2010 with 12 swimmers in the water. Last year the numbers grew to 17. And, they continue to grow as word of this remarkable 4.75 mile swim spreads. The Willoughby Swim is one of several swims hosted by Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association (NEKOWSA), a club organized by Indoor Recreation Orleans County (IROC) dedicated to promoting and hosting swims in The Kingdom’s Legendary Lakes. (Lakes Memphremagog and Willoughby have each been selected as two of the 50 great open water swimming venues in all of the Americas by The Daily News of Open Water Swimming.) Mike Rutledge, 42 of Mississauga, Ontario won the non-wet suit division with a time of 1:56:47, narrowly edging out Bill Pease, 59, of Berkeley, CA, who hit the beach with a time of 2:04:33. Third place went to David Uprichard of New York City. David swam Willoughby last year, fell in love with the lake, did Kingdom Swim in July, but couldn’t resist a return to Willoughby. Mike fell just 3 minutes shy of the record set by open water phenom Emma Otto-Moudry, who’s time last year (at age 16) was 1:53:39. Kayla Angier, 24 of Winooski, VT, won the female non-wetsuit division with a time of 2:07:48, just a couple of minutes ahead of Cheryl Elinsky, 49, of White River Jct., VT. Our local legend, Shannon Keeghan, 37 of Derby, was close behind in third place. She grabbed a burger and some fresh steamed and buttered corn, prepared by Lee Tenney and crew, and jumped back in the water for a 9.5 mile double crossing (which she also did last year). In the wetsuit divisions, the overall winner was 67-year-old, Clifford Pollard, of Windsor, VT with a blistering time of 2:12:19. “That guy is fast,” said 42-year-old, former Top Gun fighter pilot and Ironman triathlete, Barrett Wells, when Clifford beat him hands down last year. WE LOVE YOU CLIFFORD. Clifford beat out Bill Tesar, 59 of Leonia, NJ and Roland Strasser, 53 of Asbury, NJ who came in 2nd and 3rd. Pam Dolan, 45 of Mystic, CT claimed the honors in the female wetsuit division with a time of 2:12:55 (just 36 seconds behind our hero, Clifford). Not to worry Pam. If Clifford is any example, you should be getting faster, every year from here on out. Paula Yankauskas, 58 of Hyde Park, VT and Karen Vasso of North Chelmsford, MA claimed second and third place honors. For photos of Willoughby go to:https://picasaweb.google.com/103472222275138517285/WilloughbySwim2012#sl... lead photo is of local swimmer, Shannon Keegan, biting her WoodalThe first taste of Fall arrived in The Kingdom at about 10:00 am on Saturday as the wind shifted to come from the northwest, giving swimmers a bit of a boost as they swam through The Willoughby Gap under the cliffs. A great picnic on the beach ended a perfect day on Willoughby. Well, not entirely. We saw a few Willoughby Swimmers head over to South Beach (west) after the picnic. Gotta love Vermont. So, did we say Fall has arrived. I think we can now say with meteorological certainty that Fall arrives in The Kingdom with the Barton Fair and The Willoughby Swim. Saturday night was cool. Dew was rising from the lakes on Sunday morning., but, we’re not done swimming and on Sunday CASPIAN WAS OURS. Thanks to Paul Landon and Peter and Stephanie Osterhout, we now have boat support on Caspian. On Sunday, five intrepid open water swimmers helped us “field test” Caspian Lake as a “Willoughby After Swim.” From the public Beach, around Black’s Point to Bathtub Rock. They were William Pease of Berkeley, CA, Sarah Sangree of Summit, NJ who did the full 3+ miles without a wetsuit. They were joined by three others who did the swim as a one way ticket to Bathtub Rock.Another perfect day in The Kingdom. The Caspian Swim was just plain––wonderful. Just very special to me, personally. One of my aunts had a cabin on Caspian. How I discovered Vermont as a teenager, really. And one of my best friends, now deceased, Lew Shattuck, owned an unbuildable lot right next to Bathtub Rock. The times we spent …. And then there’s the Orleans County Democratic Caucus of 1982 at The Highland Lodge. Oh, and did we say that this is another one of the legendary pristine lakes of The Kingdom?The Swim from the Public Beach in Greensboro around Black’s Point to Bathtub Rock is just about exactly 1.5 miles. William Pease and Sarah Sangree now hold THE WORLD RECORD for the fastest time from The Beach to The Rock and Back. And we of NEKOWSA can now say that “Caspian is Ours” and a 3 mile and 1.5 mile Caspian Swim will be added to the list of swims officially hosted by NEKOWSA in 2013. Photos of Caspian can be found at: https://picasaweb.google.com/103472222275138517285/CaspianSwim2012#slide... Think we’re done? Not even close. Our wonderful phenom, Kingdom Swimmer, Emma Otto-Moudry shut down the field at Ederle, men and women included. She won it all, and won it convincingly. We just absolutely love this young woman. She has now set the record at Willoughby and the record at Ederle, and she is one of the nicest young women around. Congratulations, Emma!!!! And, as a final aside, we now have lake captains AND SPONSORSHIP for Crystal Lake, another one of The Legendary Lakes of The Kingdom. Scott and Maria Calderwood have agreed to help organize boat and kayak support for a swim on Crystal. And Pinecrest Motel and Cabins (on the Barton River in Orleans) has agreed to sponsor a swim on Crystal. So, in 2013, here’s A VERY TENTATIVE schedule of what we are looking at for open water swimming, hosted by NEKOWSA: June 15th: Son of a Swim (2, 4,and 6 mile swims in Memphremagog)(intended as a qualifier for Kingdom Swim) July 6th: Kingdom Swim (including the national 9+mile USMS Open Water Championship) August 3rd: Seymour Swim and KingdomTriathlonAugust 4th: Island Pond Swim (looking for support as we write) August 10th: Crystal Lake SwimAugust 11th: Newport to Georgeville (15miles) August 17th: Willoughby SwimAugust 18th: Caspian Swim August 31st: Eligo SwimSeptember 1st: Who the hell knows OR the Seven Crown Jewels Stage Race. September7th: In Search of Memphre (25 Mile Swim the length of L:ake Memphremagog) September14th: The Seven Crown Jewels - Stage Race: 2 miles in each of seven lakes in The Kingdom, all in one day. (Unless we run it over labor day.) Days are getting shorter, skiing is getting closer, but Memphre Awaits. We are ordering an extra GPS tracking devise so that we can put it on her tail, WHEN WE FIND HER!!! Hope you are all LOVING swimming the open water.