Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Potentially Spork-tacular Awards Season!

We're crashing in to the end of the year, and I'm trying to show this poor, neglected blog a little love. I've been busy!

But before I go posting all the stuff I should have done back in September and October, I wanted to post some exciting stuff that happened in November.

First, I found out I'd been nominated as one of 12 candidates for the World Open Water Swimming Association's 2014 Woman of the Year award. Turns out I'm the only American on this particular list (there are three other awards given by WOWSA at the end of each year-- Man of the Year, Performance of the Year, and Offering of the Year). WOWSA awards are determined by popular vote, and voting is open to the public. If you're interested in casting a ballot, visit the WOWSA website and sign up for a free account. There, you'll be able to read about the nominees and cast a vote in any or all four of the categories.

Second, about mid-November, I was also nominated for a Barra Award, which is the highest honor bestowed by the Marathon Swimmers Federation. This is a really exciting thing for me, as there's not much that can top this award. It's kind of like an Academy Award for Best Actor. It's voted on by my marathon swimming peers, so it means a lot when someone who's in the trenches with me casts a vote my way. You can read all about it and about the other nominees on the MSF 2014 Barra Award thread. I've got some very stiff and deserving competition for this award, but just being nominated has been a real joy. The best thing about this award? The titanium spork that the winner receives. Dare to dream...

Both awards will be announced in early January, and I'll be sure to post the results here!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

6 Swimmers Set to Participate in 4th Annual In Search of Memphre Swim on September 6

Marathon swimmers gear up for 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.


THE SWIMMERS 

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. 


ABOUT MEMPHREMAGOG

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.


IN SEARCH OF MEMPHRE RESULTS 

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

2011
Liz Fry
Charlotte Brynn
Greg O’Connor
Elaine Kornbau Howley

2012
David Dammerman
Bill Shipp
Jen Dutton
Lori Carena
Aurora Louise

2013 
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: phw1948@gmail.com

Here are some of the better pics from the past two years. 
2013: 

Friday, August 15, 2014

Scott Rulander is a Film Genius

Here's why:



This is hopefully just the preview, as Scott has plans to turn this into a longer documentary. What a great memento from an amazing swim.

Thanks, also, to H2Open magazine for the recent love about the swim!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Cancer Survivor Wins 8-Mile Boston Light Swim

Bill Shipp is first up the beach at the 2014 Boston Light Swim
SOUTH BOSTON, Mass.—On July 26, 2014, 54-year-old Bill Shipp of Mitchellville, Md., arrived first at the L Street Beach in South Boston after an arduous but quick 2 hour, 59 minute, 45 second journey across the 8-mile Boston Light Swim course. Shipp, an attorney and prostate cancer survivor from the Washington, D.C. area, is preparing for a solo swim across the English Channel in September, 2014, and his win signals that he’s ready for the big day.

“This was the first major open water event where I finished first overall, so of course I was excited,” says Shipp. “The cold water temperature and conditions were great preparation for me as I prepare for my solo crossing of the English Channel in September. The Boston Light Swim is an awesome event in an awesome city!”

Liz Fry edges out relay team the
Frozen Nipples at the
2014 Boston Light Swim
Shipp was followed into shore almost 9 minutes later by Nathaniel Dean of New York, N.Y. Veteran marathon swimmer and International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Inductee Elizabeth Fry was the first female to finish the swim in 3 hours, 13 minutes. She just edged out the first relay team, a 4-person team from Massachusetts swimming under the name the Frozen Nipples, who finished a mere 15 seconds behind her. Susan Knight of Kennebunk, Maine, placed second among the women and fourth overall with a time of 3 hours, 15 minutes, 8 seconds. Third place among the men was claimed by Martin McMahon of Simsbury, Conn., in a time of 3 hours, 23 minutes, and Alison Meehan of Elkton, Md., finished third among the women, eighth overall, with a time of 3 hours, 37 minutes, 55 seconds.

Conditions for the swim, which started at 7 a.m. from the water next to the Boston Lighthouse, were fair and started with calm but colder than expected water. As the morning progressed, however, the wind increased, causing the last two swimmers—both of whom were within a half mile of the finish line—to be pulled from the water due to the very strict 5-hour course cutoff time.

Race Director Greg O'Connor with Liz Fry
Race Director Greg O’Connor says, “I was very surprised and impressed at the fortitude of all of the swimmers. Even though the water was 58 degrees at the start, not one swimmer got out early because of the cold. Even the two swimmers that did not reach the finish stayed in for the full 5 hour time limit.”  

O'Connor congratulates Bill Shipp on winning
Shipp agrees that the event was a big success due to a very strong field of swimmers. “I think all the participants are to be applauded for their dedication and commitment to open water swimming. The Boston Light Swim is a venerable swim and Greg O’Connor and all the volunteers are to be commended for carrying forth the tradition in such a professional manner.”

The Boston Light Swim staff would like to thank all the swimmers and volunteers for another great event. This year’s race was sponsored by the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association (MOWSA), Hammer Nutrition, and Harpoon.

For more information, visit us online at www.bostonlightswim.org. For media inquiries, please contact: Race Director, Greg O’Connor, at goconnor@massopenwaterswimming.org or 508-728-0635.

Solo Swimmers
1 Bill ShippMitchellville, MD 2:59:45           
2 Nathaniel Dean,  New York, NY 3:08:18           
3 Elizabeth Fry, Westport, CT 3:13:00           
4 Susan Knight, Kennebunk, ME 3:15:08           
5 Martin McMahon, Simsbury, CT 3:23:00
6 Loren King, Hamilton, ON 3:28:13           
7 John Shumadine, Portland, ME 3:31:51           
8 Alison Meehan, Elkton, MD 3:37:55
9 Jason Glass, Brookline, MA 3:41:23           
10 Kim Garbarino, Winthrop, MA 3:46:44           
11 Helen Lin, Quincy, MA 3:50:15           
12 Bryce Croll, Boston, MA 3:50:29           
13 Solly Weiler, Newton, MA 3:54:58
14 Rebecca BurnsNew York, NY 3:56:00           
15 Kellie Joyce, Norwood, MA 3:59:59           
16 David Conners, San Francisco, CA 4:03:14           
17 Courtney Paulk, Richmond, VA 4:26:33           
18 David CookNew York, NY 4:32:55           
19 Mo Siegel, Piermont, NY 4:34:38           
20 David Kilroy, Marblehead, MA 4:46:20           
21 Jerome Leslie, Dorchester, MA  4:53:20           
DNF Melissa Hoffman, Sugar Land, TX                       
DNF Francis O’Loughlin, South Boston, MA                       

Relays
1 Frozen Nipples (4-person) MA 3:13:15           
2 Maine Masters (2-person) ME 3:25:36           
3 swim4fun (3-person) MA 3:32:44           
4 Tuff Competitor II (2-person) MA 3:52:22           
5 Sachuest Ocean Swimmers (4-person) RI 3:59:46           
6  A Fin & A Prayer (2-person) MA 4:40:42 
         
Fan favorite Jerome Leslie was the last official finisher of this year's Boston Light Swim.
Members of the Nahant Knuckleheads celebrate their success!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Dori Miller's 2-Way English Channel Success


Last night, we had the pleasure of catching up with Dori Miller, an old swimming friend who moved to Australia about five years ago. We've kept in touch, and she made a point to stop in Boston on her way to visit her parents in Michigan after having just finished an incredible 2-way crossing of the English Channel on her third attempt. We had a great time last night hearing the blow-by-blow and all the gory details of this grueling event. And her boyfriend Nick is just the best storyteller who was there for every second of it and is clearly beaming with pride over their accomplishment.

Rather than try to tell the story myself, I'm posting Nick's write-up of the swim here. It's a beautiful tribute to Dori and her swim, as well as all the positive energy from people near and far and how that helped get her through the toughest bits.

So proud of you, Dori! And we hope to get to Oz to visit with you there soon!


Dori's Double Channel Attempt 3

This story begins without an ending.

It is the week of Dori Miller's third attempt to successfully complete a double crossing of the English Channel. The arrangements and logistics are falling into place when a bombshell hit the camp. Just before boarding a plane for the UK, Dori is advised that her boat pilot will no longer be taking swimmers, effective immediately. The information was sketchy, and health issues relating to the pilot were expressed. This comes as a massive blow to Dori, and given that this pilot has successfully escorted her on three successful channel swims, her confusion and worry are evident. The situation will become clearer, but it is imperative the she not lose focus on the fact she will be going for a 24-hour swim.

For the record, I believe that Dori is in great shape, her fitness is good, and the biomechanics of her body are good. I also absolutely believe that this swim is not beyond her physically or mentally, although there will no doubt be many challenges on swim day. If I do have a concern, it would be that weight-wise she may be a little lean. Less weight can lead to more speed, but it's a fine line between optimal weight and enough weight to provide insulation from the cold.

Fast forward 24 hours and confirmation is made personally by Dori's pilot that he is out of the game. He is a decent man and tells her in person.

Arrangements have been made for the swim to take place under the guidance of the pilot Michael Oram. Oram's reputation precedes him as both the finest boat pilot on the water and a colourful character. Time will tell how this plays out, but a good man at the wheel isn't so bad.

For the record, Dori has three successful single channel crossings and two unsuccessful double crossing attempts next to her name. So when you hear the saying "try, try, try again," think of this spritely 40-something-year-old as trying again. After attempt one, which lasted about 13 hours, she went away and trained harder, smarter, and hungrier. After attempt two, which lasted about 21 hours, she again went away, reloaded, and attempted to build a bullet-proof athlete. There's what people perceive to be her training regime, and then there are the extras which go under the radar. I call it secret Russian training camp.

Contact is regularly made with boat captain Oram, and after one false alarm, the swim is scheduled to start in the early hours of the morning on Monday, August 4. Oram also explains that it will not be him but his son Lance who will pilot his boat Sea Satin on swim day. Dori personally found Michael Oram a most pleasant man to deal with, and this swim falling under the guidance of his son is of no concern. Lance is also considered amongst the best pilots on the water.

We arrive at the marina and meet our boat and crew at 1:30 a.m. on Monday morning. Dori's nerves and anxieties are well managed. Her experience is evident in her calm controlled focus for what lies ahead. Lance believes that according to his satellite weather information, the start to the day may be a little lumpy but eventually we would find ourselves in good water. We take a short boat ride from Dover Marina to the starting point at a small pebbly beach called Samphire Hoe. Dori enters the water and swims to the beach. After the sounding of a horn, acknowledgement from the two observers from the channel swimming authority, off she goes. The official start time is 3:16 a.m.

As predicted, it was messy, but this time Dori's anticipation and expectation of these conditions are dealt with and it's water off a duck's back. She's moving fast and Lance, unaware that I was listening, makes a call over boat radio that he "might have one here boys!"

There is a window of very reasonable seas, and for a good period it's just left arm, right arm. The mechanics of her stroke are all doing what it should. Her stroke rate for hours one to five is 69 to 71 strokes a minute.

At hour five, the conditions change, particularly the wind. In terms of those who live at Bondi Beach, the wind is what we would call a classic southerly. It is also swirling and is not consistent with predictions. It seems as though Dori is swimming straight into the teeth of it. Oh well, it shouldn't last too long.

Nothing changes over the next seven hours and the winds that have been ranging from between 12 and 19 knots have clearly taken a toll on Dori. She was being smashed. Watching chop after chop, wave after wave, swell after swell whack her was terrible. Terms like wind meeting tide are being used onboard, but not once did she ever not hit back. 
Continual positive reinforcement, medication for back pain, head pain, and shoulder pain are given. She has also expressed concerns over cold and stiffness. Regular checks are also made in regard to her general alertness and coherency. Any questioning of her from the boat she knows is always to be met with articulate and correct response, no debate.

Dori's crew are working overtime, and a continuous half-hour feeding regime with varying components are effective and efficient.

It's mid-afternoon and France is in sight. Dori plugs away and makes a most delightful landing on Wissant beach, much to the rapture of a small group of onlookers who are more concerned that Dori could get a boat back to England rather than swim. Ah, the French.

The stop on the beach is brief. Dori applies grease to herself, has a cup of diced fruit, two nurofen, and a handful of jelly babies. No one is allowed to touch her. The supplies are dropped onto the sand in front of her. Her spirits are good and as part of the strategy, even if things were not good, a turnaround for the return journey to England would be made, no matter what. Keep in mind that once she takes one stroke on the return journey she was more than halfway.

My concerns were that even though a 12 hour and 8 minute crossing is admirable by any standard, it was the slowest crossing of the four she has done. Possibly if she is aware of this it could play on her mind, given she has crossed nearly two hours faster previously. I decide not to offer her any times at any stage and she never asks. It's all about swimming from feed to feed.

My other concern is the physical beating she took on the first crossing. It was okay for a one-way maybe, but holding up for another leg is ridiculous. Let's just get started, maybe the tide and wind will even the ledger on the way home. Not once on the way over did Dori ever complain.

England - France: successful

Leg two is underway. The sun is out. Dori's stroke rate is 70 and her technique is good. Her state of mind is also good. The experienced channel people around here will tell you that the real challenges of a double crossing start to show around four hours into the return journey. It's at about five hours back when the wear and tear starts to show. The light is starting to fade and a curtain of darkness is drawing down upon the swim.

Things were starting to deteriorate, and at hour 20 with the full darkness of night upon us and head winds of up to 22 knots, I look at the boat tracker. There are no other boats in the channel. Pilots are not taking anyone to sea, conditions are horrible. The boat is continuously rocking, the wind and swell is bad. This is no place to be. The girl is being belted everywhere. Her stroke has fallen back to 62. Dori's arms look so heavy; each stroke looks like she's carrying house bricks. Her lower body looks like it's sinking. Her arms and shoulders will have to pull this one through. The end is not even in sight. I don't know how we're going to find another 10 minutes let alone another six or seven hours. All we wanted was a fair go, but this wasn't a fair fight.

At hour 21 Dori stops for a feed and asks for pain killers to which I ask, "why?" She pauses briefly and responds that her back is aching, her shoulders have blown, the jellyfish that went down her top had stung her all over the front, and that her wrists felt like they were broken. Fair enough. Keep in mind this was a statement, not a complaint. She also said she was cold.

My wingman on the boat, Steve Payne, and I continually reinforce positivity and adapt to continual feeding requirements attempting to keep her core warm and maintain effective energy levels. We are now feeding every 15 minutes.

From hour 22, Dori is a sinking ship. It's too far from here. I am feeling physically sick; another failed attempt is moments away. She is all but on the canvas with maybe one finger on the ropes. The conditions are horrible. As I look down at her by the side of the boat fighting away, the small light of the boat cabin catches her face each time she breathes to the left. Her face is deformed. Her cheeks are inflamed and almost look like they're bleeding. Her lips are clearly also deformed, they are massively swollen and out of alignment. The sight of her eyeballs through her goggles looks like someone who is scared; maybe she senses what's happening. The straps of her swimsuit had cut into her back. It's red raw with open wounds. Her back looks overworked and is red all over.

Internet reception on the boat is difficult but at around hour 23, Lance sticks his head out of the cabin. He says the Melbourne swimmers on their way home from Dover are on a layover in Dubai. They are all glued to the tracker and send a message... "Go, Dori, Go!" Steve checks Facebook on his phone and calls me over. "Check this out." I said, "what's up?" He replies that there are hundreds of messages from all over the world getting behind Dori. I quickly read some messages and begin to prepare the next feed. I can't be sure of my exact wording, but in reflection, the next feed is possibly the most poignant moment of this journey.

Boat goes into idle. Dori draws alongside. Two bottles attached onto a rope are thrown out to her. I tell her:

"The small bottle has a shot of flat coke. Drink it, then take the other one and drink that."

"Look at me Dori. Your swim is being watched worldwide. The boys are watching in Dubai. There are hundreds of messages from Australia and the U.S. They're even watching in Wales. Facebook is in meltdown."

"You need to swim for all those who have supported you. They're all watching. You need to take a few strokes for them all. I want you to think of a name and take 20 strokes for that person. Then think of another name and take another 20 strokes for that person. Keep doing that 'til we get there"

"Keep your stroke long and hang tough, Kid. Off you go."

She dragged herself up onto the ropes again and no doubt she swam for the people. Chances are that if you’re reading this you're one of those people.

We continue to just hang in there. The needle is on empty and for the first time Dori asks how far to go. I respond by saying, "I will tell you at the next feed." The next feed comes, and I change the subject. The truth is, if we can stay in the game, there is about two-and-a-half hours to go. Sounds so simple, but not when you're watching someone use every ounce of energy to get just one arm out of the water.

We go past 24 hours, a truly rarefied feat in itself, and join swimming legends like Des Renford and Kevin Murphy in what is known in swimming circles as the 24-Hour Club. I notice Lance filming Dori out the side window where he is guiding the boat. He makes a comment, "I love this girl. She just cracks on. She hasn't complained once, you know."

Lance does this for a living; he's seen it all. I can't speak for him, but no doubt he was in awe of the contest.

Somehow we have survived to 25-odd hours. The sun is starting to appear, and the White Cliffs of Dover are getting brighter and closer by the stroke. The girl is absolutely out on her feet, but the morning light and visual impact of an ending might just get her home.

I speak with Lance around the 26-hour mark and he says there is a mile to go. This last stretch will be the longest mile. The morning light is good and the physical sight of the damage done to Dori is nothing short of horrific.

The end is in sight, the sound of her stroke hitting the water will stay with me forever. Never once did she not hit back. Lance stops the boat in the shallow water. Dori swims away from the boat, her eyes towards a small pebbly ledge under the white cliffs. It is the most magnificent sight as Dori emerges from the water and waves to the boat. The observers acknowledge an official landing as Lance blows the boats air horn. Dori leans against the cliff wall for a few minutes, clearly shattered. She returns to the boat shortly after. Dori is on the boat deck and the external damage to her body is terrible. Her fingers and toes look like they could fall off. Her face and tongue are a mess. It's not long after finishing that her neck, back, arms, legs, and fingers all seize up. She shakes uncontrollably and cries. It's over now Dori, it's over.

So after 26 hours and 21 minutes the job is done.

England - France - England: successful
Leg one: 12 hours 8 minutes
Leg two: 14 hours 13 minutes

The support of so many has not been missed, and when the red button was pushed, ultimately it was people-power that got her home. I thank you all on Dori's behalf.

So the story that began without an ending now has one. 

Parkinson's disease research is now over $18,000 the better off, and Dori has conquered her demon and crossed the channel a fifth time in double fashion. In so doing, she becomes the 27th different person to do so.

The final word is from one of the many well wishers post swim. "There is not a word in the English language for what Dori has achieved today."

Thank you for your support

Nick Nezval

Links to videos from Dori’s swim:

P8050005 from Dori Miller on Vimeo.

1 mile to go: https://vimeo.com/103017656

P8050017 from Dori Miller on Vimeo.

Finished: https://vimeo.com/103057291

GOPR0471 from Dori Miller on Vimeo.

Signing the wall: https://vimeo.com/103078905

Monday, August 4, 2014

Lake Pend Oreille Swim: A Success!

We are just back to Massachusetts today after an incredible week in Sandpoint, Idaho. And I've so much to say about this amazing journey-- everything from the friendly people we met and the exquisite places we saw to the mind-blowing swim itself. I'm exhausted, having come off a red-eye flight this morning to a long day of work and catching up to my inbox, so for now, here are some videos and a round up of most of the media coverage of the event. (I have several newspaper stories to add later!)



Sunset, about 3 hours after starting the swim.



Sunrise as the chop begins kicking up.



The finish. What a crowd!

Spokane, North Idaho News

KREM 2 pre-swim coverage
Boise Weekly pre-swim coverage
Bonner County Daily Bee pre-swim coverage
Coeur d'Alene Press pre-swim coverage
Inlander blog pre-swim coverage

Bonner County Daily Bee mid-swim coverage

KREM 2 post-swim coverage
Bonner County Daily Bee post-swim coverage
Boise Weekly post-swim coverage

Lots more photos and information on the Sandpoint Online Facebook page.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Boston Swimmer to Become First to Traverse 34-mile Length of Lake Pend Oreille in Northern Idaho

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 24, 2014

SANDPOINT, IDAHO— On July 30th, Boston-based ultramarthon swimmer Elaine K. Howley is slated to make history with a solo, 34-mile swim the length of Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho. This will be the first time a swimmer has attempted to traverse the entire length of the lake in a single swim. An 84-mile circumnavigation of the lake was completed in 2011 by a team of 10 relay swimmers.

Howley was invited to take on this long-distance challenge by Eric Ridgway, who is the founder of the annual 1.76-mile Long Bridge Swim in Sandpoint, Idaho, which he organized for 19 years. Ridgway, a Sandpoint resident, has stepped back from his race director duties this year and will be focusing on supporting Howley in her historic marathon swim, which is timed to fall a few days prior to this year’s Long Bridge Swim event. Her swim will help promote the Long Bridge Swim and draw attention to the aquatic recreational opportunities in the greater Sandpoint area.

“We have such an incredibly beautiful lake here that I am sure that we are going to have many more open water swimmers coming in the years ahead to take on the challenges of this fresh water playground,” says Ridgway. “I have been involved with three prior ‘Big Lake Swims’ in Lake Pend Oreille, but all of those were as part of a relay team. I knew that someone would eventually come along to do it as a solo swim, and after talking with Elaine several years ago, I thought that she would be the ideal swimmer to accomplish this feat first! She is not only an amazing athlete, but she does so much to inspire and support others in the swimming world. She is going to open up a whole new venue for big open water swims in the Pacific Northwest.”

The big swim will begin at Buttonhook Bay, the southernmost point in the lake and progress northward to the intended finish line at the Sandpoint City Beach Park. Howley expects to cover the 34 miles in 17 to 20 hours if weather conditions are fair. If conditions prove rough or windy, the swim could take upwards of 24 hours or more. A veteran marathon swimmer who has completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, which consists of solo crossings of the Catalina and English Channels and a solo circumnavigation of Manhattan Island, Howley is also a certified ice swimmer who completed a 1-mile ocean swim in Boston Harbor in December 2012. The water was 41-degrees during that swim and Howley did not wear a wetsuit. She also recently completed a 24-hour training swim in Lake Cochituate in Wayland, Mass., during which she covered more than 38 miles.

“After that most recent great experience, I’m feeling really confident about this upcoming big swim,” Howley says. “It’s a total privilege to be invited to do this swim, and I’m very grateful for the community support I’ve already had in planning the logistics.”

Howely, who works as Associate Editor for U.S. Masters Swimming, will be supported in this adventure by a highly experienced crew that will shadow her from a powerboat. Ridgway will be joined by Howley’s husband, Mark Howley of Waltham, Mass., and sports nutritionist Sunny Blende of Sausalito, Calif. Randy Hixon of Sausalito, Calif., will also be offering kayak support.

The swim will be conducted under the auspices of the Marathon Swimmers Federation following the official Rules of Marathon Swimming, of which Howley was a co-author. Fellow co-author Andrew Malinak of Seattle, Wash.,—who is also a marathon swimmer and recently became only the third person to complete all seven stages of the 8 Bridges Swim down the Hudson River and undertook a highly-publicized attempt to swim the Strait of Juan de Fuca in 2013—will also be on board to observe and document the swim. The rules state that the swimmer may not touch the boat or any of the crew and may not wear a wetsuit. The water is expected to range between 65 and 70 degrees F.


Howley, who is sponsored by women’s clothing company Athleta and sports nutrition product company UCAN, says this swim will be a real test of her skills and endurance. “And from what I’ve been told, it’s one of the most beautiful places on the planet to swim. So, sign me up! I’m excited to be embarking on this amazing journey!”