The Challenge: 100km in the Kingdom
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 4-5 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, 28.9km
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 18th 2022 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. 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.
Swim 2: Border Buster Swim, 25km - July 23rd 2022 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. The lovely Kathleene Callicott will be kayaking for me. Kathleene, no matter what Gary says, I'm an utter delight to paddle for...quiet and very obedient. Mostly.
Swim 3: NEK Swim Week, 28.9km - August 6-8th 2022 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 resume, so there's unfinished business on that lake. And if not, maybe we'll add a Willoughby double to the mix. Wait and see. 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 6th
Island Pond, 6.4km – August 7th
Lac Massawippi, 14.5km – August 8th
Swim 4: In Search of Memphré, 40km - September 12-14th 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 12-14th, 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. A boat and pilot will be provided, Gary will paddle, my friend Kat Borczak will crew, and Charlotte Brynn will join us if she can. Pretty amazing lineup, if you ask 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....