open water

Swim Spots We Love: Misquamicut State Beach in Westerly, RI

Is there an open water swim spot you love? Tell us about it!

Contributed by Bridget M.M. Simpson, Adirondack Masters

WESTERLY, RI — The first time I saw the ocean was at Misquamicut State Beach when I was a little girl. About ten years ago, I started making the trek back from northern New York state each summer with my kids. The bathhouse is new and features a daughter-approved play area, there is plenty of sandy beach, and the dune has been left to grow sea grasses.

Bridget Simpson surveys her domain at Misquamicut State Beach (photo by Quinn Simpson)

Bridget Simpson surveys her domain at Misquamicut State Beach (photo by Quinn Simpson)

The beach: The beach features lifeguards, coin-operated hot showers, composting toilets, and a concession stand. A Rhode Island seasonal beach parking pass is well worth it to access all of the state’s beaches and their well-maintained facilities. The Misquamicut lot will fill on a weekend morning—I once went to Mass on a Sunday morning and had to wait until about mid-afternoon to park. After hours, the parking lot is open at no charge and the on-beach cold showers may still be working.

Where to swim: I swim between Paddy’s Beach Bar and the Westerly Town Beach, just past the breakers. The swim area is marked by widely spaced buoys far from shore. I have seen a few boats come close to the buoy limits, but I swim about midway between beach and buoy line. I feel safe, but do pay attention. Past Misquamicut, the beaches are guarded, and I may swim past a few more along Atlantic Avenue this summer.

Water conditions: The guards like my bright tow buoy. I swim in deep water, but I can see the ripples in the sand below me. It is brisk—usually in the mid-to-high 60s—but last summer had days in the low-to-mid 70s. There are occasionally rip currents; I once swam for about a half hour with no progress. It was a good workout, and the guards could tell I was not in distress.

Wildlife: Occasionally, seaweed floats on the water in patches or clouds, and last summer there were a few days in August with periodic moon-jellies. Like small, clear jellybeans, they made the water feel like tapioca. While weird, they only caused a problem when some got stuck in my suit and made me itch. Newer, snugger suits had kept them out. In a race or event, I’d have kept going, but since this was a vacation swim, I swapped my goggles for the sunglasses in my tow float and enjoyed a walk on the beach instead.

The Simpson children enjoy the sandy beach

The Simpson children enjoy the sandy beach

Refueling: My tow float can hold a sundress (in a Ziplock bag), a small snack, and water. I can take a break along the way, and maybe go for clam cakes or a bowl of chowder from Two Little Fish, a great place for lunch just across Atlantic Avenue from the east end of Misquamicut. The dry bag closure can clip around the belt, so I don't have to carry it. Ever so stylish!

Where to stay: Sometimes I make three trips to Misquamicut during the summer. I tent at nearby Burlingame Campgrounds in Charlestown. Sites will book solid on a weekend or holiday, but I risk a walk-in space on weeknights for spur-of-the-moment trips. I check email and fill my cooler on my way to the beach. There are lovely motels and hotels in the area, but I like my cot and tent.

How to join me: I am a solo swimmer, but would be happy to meet up with swimmers when I am in the area. Some trips last a few days, but I have been known to drive down, sleep the night, swim all day, and get back in the car to drive home. Contact Bridget here.

Is there an open water swim spot you love? Tell us about it!

MBCC's Against The Tide Event is a Hidden Gem

HOPKINTON, MA — On June 15, I participated once again in the Massachusetts Breast Cancer Coalition’s Against the Tide 1-mile open water swim at Hopkinton State Park.

I have to admit that as I write this article, I am bewildered by how few of my fellow masters swimmers opt to participate in this race. I always thought MBCC ran a good event. After helping them with some suggestions over the years, I now think they run a GREAT event. Here are just a few things that make this race worthwhile:

Al Prescott is recognized by MBCC for his efforts in helping the race director.

Al Prescott is recognized by MBCC for his efforts in helping the race director.

  • They offer a competitive 1-mile race, one loop around an island, that is the SAME distance every year.

  • They offer a completely separate non-competitive race for beginners and folks who just want to take it easy or try it out.

  • You get free access to the Hopkinton State Park and can stay all day.

  • They have free HOT breakfast for EVERYONE.

  • They offer events for the whole family including running races, a paddle board race, a kayak race, and more.

  • I got a free 15-minute massage after the race.

  • Your entry fee helps support research and prevention of a deadly disease.

If you are looking for a good early—but not too early—season event, come to Hopkinton next year and try to knock me out of the Top 10. Win or lose, I’ll meet you for a hot egg and cheese sandwich after the race.
— “Big” Al Prescott, NEM-MAMA, NELMSC Treasurer
Al Prescott, Jocelyn Noakes, and Frank Reinhold celebrate their efforts in the 1-mile swim

Al Prescott, Jocelyn Noakes, and Frank Reinhold celebrate their efforts in the 1-mile swim

Despite this, the race director has confided in me confusion. Years ago, it was normal to get 60 to 100 people in the swim race. Now the numbers are in the 30s. While I plan to do this race into the foreseeable future, that future looks murky. I'm not sure what more the race director can do to promote this race, and I have promised to help them brainstorm.

In the meantime, let me try this: I have won my age group and finished in the top 10 each time I have done this race. This year, I challenged one of my teammates to compete with me. She beat me and won her age group. So to the rest of New England: if you are looking for a good early—but not too early—season event, come to Hopkinton next year and try to knock me out of the Top 10. Win or lose, I'll meet you for a hot egg and cheese sandwich after the race.

- “Big” Al Prescott, NEM-MAMA, NELMSC Treasurer

MBCC will host their second event of the summer, Against the Tide - Brewster, on August 17 at Nickerson State Park.

Swim spots we love: Jenness State Beach in Rye, NH

Is there an open water swim spot you love? Tell us about it!

Contributed by Guy Davis, GBM & NELMSC Vice-Chair

RYE, NH — I'm very lucky to live within an easy drive to Rye, NH, and have been swimming at Jenness State Beach—also known as Rye Beach—for the last decade. The north section is also known as Cable Beach (confusing, huh?) because it is the place where one of the the first trans-Atlantic communications cables came ashore in 1874. It's a wonderful venue for open water swimming, but of course as an ocean venue, we need to respect and understand the weather, surf and other conditions and take the appropriate safety precautions. 

Getting there: The beach is about a mile long, with the State Beach parking lot at around the midpoint. This area becomes busy during the summer so my pod usually swims from the north end of the beach, where there is access to the beach and plenty of street parking even during busy weekends, though a short walk might be required on those days. Take care to respect the Rye parking notices and rules; your car wheels must be outside the white lines (completely off the road) to avoid a ticket.

The beach: The beach is protected by rocky headlands at either end but, other than a few rocks close to the state parking lot which are well-submerged except at low tide, generally hazard-free. It is lifeguarded during the summer. The water is usually very clean but sometimes seaweed piles up at one end of the beach so we occasionally need to wade or swim through some of it to the clean water.

Water temperature: The water is cool or cold throughout the summer and can vary widely from day to day depending on wind conditions. When there are consistently strong offshore winds the water can drop into the 50s even at the height of summer and the temperature rarely exceeds the mid 60s. A good proxy for the temperature you can expect is the reading at NOAA's Wells buoy.

Most of our pod swims in a wetsuit throughout the season, but we have a few hardy “channel” type swimmers who swim skins for most or all of the year.

Surf: Rye Beach is a popular surf spot. The beach conditions can be checked on the surf cam of the local surf shop. Surf conditions vary a great deal from dead calm to over head-high, so checking ahead is a good idea. When surf is up, we make sure to swim outside the surf line and away from the surfers for calmer water and to avoid any risk of collision. On these days, particular care needs to be taken when swimming out through the surf or back into the beach. Getting through the surf can be challenging, so be sure to swim within your experience and capabilities. Although uncommon at Rye, riptides are always a consideration in ocean beach swimming, so take care to understand these and other hazards of ocean swimming. Consulting with the lifeguards and letting them know of your swim plans is always a good idea when swimming in a less familiar venue.

Boats: Boat presence is very unusual, but on calm days a couple of fishing boats may approach the shore, usually at the ends of the beach.

Wildlife: There has never been a recorded “big fish” incident on NH beaches and I have never heard of any jellyfish problems from local swimmers.

When we swim: We swim fairly regularly on Saturday and Sunday mornings at about 7am throughout the summer. Come join us! (If you need more information, check out the Great Bay Masters group on Facebook.)

Please note: These swims are informal, unsanctioned, and at your own risk.

Is there an open water swim spot you love? Tell us about it!

Are You a Long Distance All-Star?

Each year, the USMS Long Distance Committee recognizes excellence in long distance swimming by naming an All-Star Team. To qualify, compete in at least three national championship long distance events, including one open water event and one ePostal event. Gain points for every Top 10 finish. Accumulate the most points in your age group to be name a Long Distance All-Star!

2019 is a great time to go for All-Star status because New England is be hosting TWO USMS Open Water National Championships! Get started early by swimming the 1-hour ePostal this month.


Open Water Events

Sprint: 8/16, Lake Willoughby, VT

2-mile Cable: 6/15, Eagle Creek Park, IN

Middle: 6/1, Lake Berryessa, CA

Long: 8/17, Lake Willoughby, VT

Marathon: 9/22, Knoxville, TN

Ultramarathon: 7/7, Portland, OR

ePostal Events

in any pool of the appropriate length

1-Hour: 1/1-2/28, 25-yards or longer

5K: 5/15-9/15, 50-meters

10K: 5/15-9/15, 50-meters

3000-Yard: 9/15-11/15, 25y or 25m

6000-Yard: 9/15-11/15, 25y or 25m

Summer Meet & Open Water Result Links

Kingdom Swim Recap

Contributed by Charlotte Brynn, NE-LMSC Open Water Chair

NEWPORT, VT --  The 10th Annual Kingdom Swim was held on July 28th in Lake Memphremagog in Newport, Vermont. The 125 swimmers competed under sunny skies in 72-74F water temperatures. Swimmers raced in the 1 mile, 5 km, 10 km, 10 mile, or 25 km Border Buster event into Canada and back. Masters swimmers from New England represented well in all courses and posted many top finishes.

Winners of the beautifully hand-carved Vermont walking sticks in the 25 km Border Buster race were 25-year-old Anthony Szmul of Queensbury, NY in 8 hours 13 minutes 56 seconds and 50-year-old Charlotte Brynn of Stowe, VT in 8 hours 31 minutes 44 seconds. 

In the 10-mile race, 29-year-old Morgan Grozier of East Orleans, MA and 57-year-old George Boerger of Kingston, MA each won a walking stick, a pound of Brault's Beef Jerky, a quart of Couture's Maple Syrup, and a six-pack of Burke Mountain ski tickets.

Alana Aubin post-10km victory

Alana Aubin post-10km victory

In the 10km race Eric Nilsson stormed away from the field -- to no one's surprise -- finishing first in a time of 2 hours 10 minutes 49 seconds. Alana Aubin completed another strong Kingdom Swim to win the overall female division in a time of 2 hours 38 minutes 48 seconds.

Registration for the 2019 Kingdom Swim opened September 1. With only 30 spots in each event, register early to secure your spot and chance to enjoy a weekend of friendly open-water competition in the scenic Northeast Kingdom!


Top 5 Finishers

25 km Border Buster

Female
1. Charlotte Brynn 8:31:44 
2. Martha Wood 8:45:43 
3. Daniela Klaz 9:05:25 
4. Melodee Nugent 9:19:14 
5. Emily Boerger 9:51:43

 Male
1. Anthony Szmul 8:13:56 
2. Bill Shipp 9:00:36 
3. Michael Pollanen 10:14:39 
4. John Batchelder 10:22:06 
5. Andrew Wallace 10:25:55 


10-Mile

Female
1. Morgan Grozier 4:46:19 
2. Molly Lunn Owen 5:13:02 
3. Keone Weigl 5:15:24 
4. Britt Hulbert 5:21:22 
5. Puranjot Khalsa 5:24:36 

Wetsuit

1. Carol Shuford 6:13:14 
2. Joanne Navilliat 7:37:50 

Male
1. George Boerger 5:51:15 
2. Leopoldo Gomez 6:37:51 
3. John Gale 8:06:15

Wetsuit

1. Andrew Westbrook 6:06:38 
2. Damase Olsson 7:01:35 


10 km

Male
1. Eric Nilsson 2:10:49 
2. Sheldon Katz 2:54:29 
3. Peter November 3:01:58 
4. John Hughes 3:12:39 
5. Kevin Joubert 3:12:51 

 

Female
1. Alana Aubin 2:38:48 
2. Melissa Andrews 2:40:33 
3. Joan Hudak 2:43:19 
4. Vera Rivard 3:01:13 
5. Holly Donnelly 3:14:42 

Wetsuit
1. Lee Ann Banks 3:17:29
2. Patricia Lambert 3:28:07 
3. Robyn Shiely 3:49:15 
4. Cheryl Coletti-Lawson 3:52:28 
5. Sally Kidd 4:37:07 

Kingdom Swim 10 mile start.jpg

5 km

Female
1. Katharine Dunn 1:10:21 
2. Laura Kenny 1:21:41 
3. Madeline Craig 1:24:11 
4. Tori Lamphere 1:24:35 
5. Julie Bosak 1:24:11 

 Wetsuit
1. Jody Goodrich 1:33:50 
2. Melissa McEvoy 1:35:09 
3. Katherine Ruffin 1:37:00 
4. Cindy Rodd 1:41:46 
5. Katie Hudon 2:00:36 

Male
1. Lawton Harper 1:25:27 
2. Jesse Marshall 1:29:37 
3. Jimmy Wu 1:42:27

Wetsuit

1. George Randall 1:52:15 
2. Victor Yanessa 1:52:22 


1-Mile swim

Male
1. Robert Hrabchak 26.03 
2. Josep Garrison 28.39 
3. Hermes Cabellero 28.48 
4. Will Golec 29.02 
5. Denis Beaudry 30.58 

Female
1. Louise Davies 29.04 
2. Judith Ebsary 29.12 
3. Rachel Gagnon 30.43
4. Quinn Manion 31.26 
5. Anne Hrabchak 35.05 

Event Spotlight: Peaks to Portland Swim to Benefit Kids

Contributed by Charlotte Brynn, NE LMSC Open Water Sanctions Chair

Event: Peaks to Portland Swim to Benefit Kids

Date: July 28, 2018

Distance 2.4 miles

Location: Casco Bay, Maine

Maine is right up there on my list of favorite places to swim. It has a lot to do with the vastness of the ocean, the variety of rugged coastline and sandy beaches, and the vibrant, friendly open water swimming community. Traveling to an open water swim event is a great way to experience another area, meet new people and discover new places to swim.

I was impressed to learn that the long running Peaks to Portland swim had a swimmer who has participated for 30 years! I wanted to learn more about the draw of this long running event and what keeps people coming back. Sarah Leighton, from the YMCA of Southern Maine, filled me in on all the things that make this swim so special and a must for your open water calendar!

Charlotte Brynn: Peaks to Portland is a 2.4 mile swim that has a wealth of history dating back to before WWII. Tell us about some of the early swims.

Sarah Leighton: Peaks to Portland started in the 1920s. At that time, there were no wetsuits so swimmers would grease their bodies in an effort to keep warm. Back then, the fastest swimmers finished the swim in one hour and fifteen minutes. Today swimmers finish in as little as 40 minutes. The swim was suspended at the start of World War II due to the fear of mines in the water. It wasn’t until 1981 that it was revived by the YMCA of Southern Maine, and we’ve hosted the event ever since.

CB: The Maine coastline is famous for its rugged good looks, and Maine swimmers are some of the most welcoming swimmers I’ve encountered around the world. What are some of the highlights of the swim that help make it an OW event not to miss? 

SL: There’s no better way to experience Maine than the Peaks to Portland Swim.  Swimmers take the Casco Bay Ferry in the early morning to picturesque Peaks Island where they begin their journey. Together with 500 other swimmers, they swim with the tide across Casco Bay. They pass the historic Fort Gorges, built in the 1850s. And at East End Beach, thousands of cheering spectators and volunteers welcome them across the finish line.

CB: You provide terrific support to swimmers before, during and after the swim, from training support, to what to bring and wear to park. What tips can you share for a swimmer new to Peaks to Portland?

p2pswim.jpg

SL: When it’s cold, swimmers are forced to train in a pool, but it’s important that they transition their training to the ocean at least a couple weeks prior to the event. This helps swimmers acclimate to the cold water and reduces their chance of developing hypothermia on race day. Veteran swimmers also encourage new participants to practice in their wetsuits and with their kayaker (even if it’s in fresh water). That way, you’re used to the extra buoyancy provided by your suit and you and your kayaker have a chance to develop a good communication system. If you’re looking for additional support, consider signing up for one of the YMCA of Southern Maine’s Peaks to Portland training classes!

CB: Finally, please tell us about some of the inspirational swimmers that swim Peaks to Portland. 

SL: The Peaks to Portland Swim attracts a diverse group of swimmers. Last year, our oldest swimmer was 74 years old, and our youngest was 16. We welcome swimmers of all types as long as they’re able to swim one mile in 40 minutes or less. Last year, swimmer Merry Farnum completed her 30th Peaks to Portland Swim!  In fact, she completed all 30 swims without a wet suit – now that’s tough! As an advocate for the YMCA of Southern Maine, she also raised over $3,000 to benefit youth. Fundraising is an important part of this race – last year we raised over $180,000 all of which went to supporting kids in our youth development programs.

CB: Thanks Sarah, all the best another successful event this year!

Tenth Charles River One Mile Swim (Sanctioned)

Contributed by Kate Radville, CRSC

BOSTON, MA -- The Tenth Charles River One Mile Swim will take place on June 2, 2018. The USMS sanctioned swim will feature chip timing, fabulous t-shirts, fun prizes, gorgeous scenery and a convenient location in the heart of downtown Boston. Wetsuits are optional, making this the ideal early season tune-up for your open water swimming.  Please visit our website for registration information or email us with questions. Join us to either swim or volunteer and help us make our tenth swim our best swim yet!

charles_river_2017.jpeg

12th Annual Swim & Fin Race for Salem Sound Goes Swimmingly

Contributed by Megan Podeszwa, Salem Sound Coastwatch

SALEM, MA -- The 12th Annual Swim & Fin Race for Salem Sound went off without a hitch on August 20. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful morning to send nearly 150 swimmers into the clean, swimmable waters of Salem Sound!

Swimmers ranged in age from 11-74 and competed 500 meter, 1 mile and 5K races. We had so much great talent join us and swimmers of all abilities. It was a great race to watch!

On land, spectators had great views of the course as well as a DJ, raffle, kids coloring table, and touch tank! Swimmers received their choice of clam chowder or meatballs after the race and others had the option to purchase food. There was also plenty of coffee and baked goods to go around!

The energy of the crowd was great as swimmers went in and came out of the water. Swimmers received ocean-themed awards by age group as well as wetsuit and non-wetsuits. First place was a scallop shell, second was a surf clam shell, and third was a quahog shell. The fastest male and female in each race received large scallop shells. 

Robert Kysela (Portland, ME) of Maine Masters (MESC) won the men's 5k race, followed by Christopher Borgatti (Byfield, MA, Unattached) and Chris Waldman (Portland, ME). Emily Dobrindt (Milton, MA) was the women's 5k champion with Rachel Saks Aronis (Natick, MA) taking second and Tsveta Stanilova (Portland, ME, MESC) finishing third. At the 1-mile distance, Benjamin Czech (Providence, RI), Joe Wang (Framingham, MA), and Richy Puopolo (East Boston, MA) were the top three men. Lyndsay Martin (New York, NY), Kaelyn Patch (Brentwood, NH), and Fiona Price (Northborough, MA) took podium spots in the women's race.

A great day was had by all and for a great cause. It was amazing to see so many people caring about our local environment and what better way to show how much you care about clean water.  Thank you to everyone who came out to support Salem Sound Coastwatch!

39th Annual Celebrate the Clean Harbor Swim Draws Swimmers from Near and Far

Contributed by Guy Davis, GBM, NE LMSC Vice-Chair

NE LMSC Treasurer and ANA swimmer Al Prescott

Charles River Masters swimmers David Bentley and Andrea Sonan

GLOUCESTER, MA -- Now in its 39th year, the New England Open Water Swimming Association's ever popular Celebrate the Clean Harbor Swim was held on August 19th. The swim follows a 1.2 mile rectangular course out and back from Niles Beach, a sheltered cove on the north side of Gloucester Harbor. The event now includes a 500m youth swim, an introduction for 8-12 year old swimmers to the fun and challenge of open water racing. Although more overcast than the usual perfect summer sunshine that this event typically enjoys, the conditions were perfect for racing with comfortable water temperatures and very little breeze or chop. North Shore and Boston area swimmers dominated the nearly 90 entries, including longtime former race director Richie Martin in the largest and most competitive division of Men 60-69 years. There were also participants from all over New England and from as far afield as Illinois. 

This year's non-wetsuit overall winners were Kaitlin Pratt (Wakefield, MA) and Graham Lott (Gloucester, MA). Wetsuit overall winners were Hannah Perkins (Beverly, MA) and, for the third consecutive year, Ethan Saulnier (Salem, MA). Kaitlin and Hannah are both 13 years old, and Hannah is a former winner of the youth swim. Overall winners received Megalodon teeth and division winners received shark teeth as prizes. Many thanks to race director Dave Swensen and his team, volunteers, and sponsors for the professional management, a relaxed and family-friendly atmosphere, competitive racing and the coolest prizes.