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  • Writer's pictureNadine Bennett

The Challenge: 100km in the Kingdom

Updated: May 17, 2023

I've been talking to my swim coach Shannon about the importance of putting goals out there, so they exist in spaces outside of just my head. So here goes...

I dreamed this up a long time ago, probably about 5-6 years. My challenge is to swim a total of at least 100km of unassisted marathon swimming in a single season. The swims start small and get longer as the summer rolls out, culminating in my first attempt at a 40km distance. This will also be a great opportunity to document for readers how I prepare for these swims and the things I learn along the way, such as technique, feed plan, strategy, etc.

Here's a breakdown of the swims I'm registered for:

Swim 1: Clubhouse Swim, 16km

Swim 2: Border Buster Swim, 25km

Swim 3: NEK Swim Week, 50.1km

Swim 4: In Search of Memphré, 40km

Yeah, that all adds up to more than 100km, there's a little extra in there just in case things change along the way. The swims all take place in the Northeast Kingdom, which is the northeast corner of the state of Vermont, in the United States. Locals refer to it as the NEK, or more simply, "The Kingdom". The region has been specially designated by National Geographic as a Geotourism Area. With its rolling hills, forests and waterways, it's simply spectacular, a truly magical place to spend your time.

The Kingdom has 12 beautiful lakes and reservoirs. I've been swimming in this area for a few years, at various open water swimming events run by Kingdom Games. It's where I have both succeeded (several times) and failed (once), where I learned from other swimmers with far more experience than myself, and where I developed into my own as a marathon swimmer. It's time to take it further, to see if I have what it takes to go longer.

Here's a walkthrough of the swims...

Swim 1: Clubhouse Swim, 16km - June 17th 2023 on Lac Memphrémagog

Lake Memphrémagog is a 25,205-acre international lake, whose 75-mile shoreline stretches across Vermont and Quebec. The Clubhouse Swim series is fairly new, it's a swim with various distances on select Saturdays throughout the summer, from the Clubhouse out to and around the islands of Derby Bay. This swim will be a great way to test changes to my technique, feeding, strategy. The lovely Kathleene Marcil will be kayaking for me. Kathleene, no matter what Gary says, I'm an utter delight to paddle for...quiet and very obedient. Mostly. Sometimes.

Swim 2: Border Buster Swim, 25km - July 29th 2023 on Lac Memphrémagog

Back on Memphrémagog! I've swum Border Buster twice already, and I really LOVE this swim. You start in Newport, swim up past the border into Canada, across the width of the lake, and back down to Newport again. It's a great test of your skills, your patience, your perseverance. Gary Golden will kayak this one for me, bound to be a ton of fun out on the water! I hear he has a better map this time around, one which converts miles into kilometers for those of us swimmers WHO NEED TO KNOW! Kidding, I'll be focusing less this year on knowing where we are.

Can't wait!

Swim 3: NEK Swim Week, 50.1km - August 5-9th 2023 on various Lakes

Then I'll be joining some of the NEK Swim Week fun, swimming a few of the 8 swims offered over the course of 9 days. I've chosen a few swims, but we'll be waiting for the time to come to decide for sure. Although the double Massawippi is no longer being offered, there's a small chance I can do it as a solo, which would be wicked because it's the one DNF on my swim resume, so there's unfinished business on that lake. And if not, no big deal (for now). Back to back swims will help me work through fatigue, and let me keep practicing any refinements I make to my swims, but over safe, short distances. Gary's back in the kayak for these ones, should be a ton of fun!

Crystal Lake, 8km – August 5th

Island Pond, 6.4km – August 6th

Lac Massawippi, 14.5km – August 7th

Lake Seymour, 10km – August 8th

Echo Lake, 11.2km – August 9th

And finally...

Swim 4: In Search of Memphré, 40km - September 4-6th on Lac Memphrémagog

THE BIG ONE. The length of Memphrémagog, from Newport, VT to Magog, QC. Or vice-versa, depends on weather and wind conditions. My window is September 4-6th, the actual date gets chosen later, once we see the weather forecast. I chose to swim this late in the season because I wanted a chillier swim. Boat support still be figured out, I'll need a couple of people to feed and motivate me.

The Search is in support of more open borders between Canada and the US, and to seek out the swimmer-friendly and elusive lake creature, Memphré. This swim will tell me where I go from here, whether I succeed in finishing or not. It will tell me if I love the longer distance, and how much I really want it. And if I don't succeed, I'll fix my mistakes, go back again and keep trying. Am I nervous? YES. All I can do is train my body and mind, and mother nature will decide what gets thrown at me out on the lake. I'll be ready for it...

More to come....

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