Contributed by Alana Aubin, NELMSC Communications Chair, and Laurie Hug
WESTMORE, VT – More than 100 USMS swimmers gathered at Lake Willoughby, Vermont August 16-17 for the 2019 USMS Open Water National Championships. The event was hosted by the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association (NEKOWSA), as part of its Swim the Kingdom Week, with support from the New England LMSC (NELMSC).
On Friday, 93 swimmers took to the water for the Sprint-Distance National Championship, a 1-mile buoy course off the lake’s North Beach. The water was around 70F and a southerly wind caused 1-2 foot waves. The race was run in three waves of 30-32 swimmers each. The top six in each age group took home a custom “woodal” and National Champions also garnered a jug of Vermont maple syrup.
In wave one, Kim Elsbach posted the fastest time (23:24) to earn the national title in the women’s 55-59 age group with nearly a minute lead over the 60-64 champion, Karen Einsidler. New Englanders Tracy Grilli, Ann Swift, and Margaret Haskins filled out the next three 60-64 spots, while Martha Wood was the 55-59 runner up. Joel Feldmann (65-69) and Cynthia Needham (70-74) both took third in their age groups.
In the all-male second wave, Stuart Cromarty emerged from the lake first in 21:08 to take home the national title in the men’s 55-59 age category with Rob Allen not far behind to earn the 50-54 title. Guy Davis took first in 60-64 while Douglas Sayles (50-54) and Tom Phillips (45-49) grabbed second in their age groups.
In wave three, Ildiko Szekely produced the overall fastest time of the day in 21:05 after a tight race with Mackenzie Leake, who became the 25-29 champion. Szekely won the women’s 40-44 age group, followed by Jessica Stokes and Jennifer Downing. Alana Aubin (25-59), Kimberly Fry (35-39), and Karyn Scherer (45-49) each picked up second place in their age groups.
On Saturday, 82 athletes completed a 5-mile Lake Willoughby crossing, swimming South to North for this year’s Long-Distance Open Water National Championship. Conditions were similar to Friday, with water 68-70 degrees and a tailwind from the south pushing swimmers along and creating waves up to a foot. Upon finishing on the sandy North Beach, swimmers and their escort kayakers were treated to a pig roast. Winners took home beef jerky and more custom woodals.
Eric Nilsson took the overall win and men’s 30-34 title in an astounding 1:36:21 while Mackenzie Leake picked up her second national title of the weekend by winning the women’s event (and the 25-29 age group) in 1:45:57.
New England athletes dominated the women’s 40-44 division with Jessica Stokes, Jennifer Downing, and Laurie Craigen sweeping the podium. Jennifer Olsen and Merin Troutman were the top two finishers in the women’s 45-49 group. Jessica Moore and Janelle Guyot were second and third in the 35-39 group while Tracy Grilli led Nancy Johnston, Margaret Haskins, and Joanna Florio-Jeffereys in positions 2-5 of the 60-64 division. Cynthia Needham (70-74) and Alana Aubin (25-29) each finished second while Martha Wood (55-59) was third.
On the men’s side, Mike Broglio and Christopher Graefe went 1-2 in the 45-49 age group while Douglas Sayles (50-54), Phil Schoepke (55-59), and Guy Davis (60-64) each won their age groups.
Both days, several lucky participants won an extra prize—a custom-embroidered TYR Alliance backpack, FINIS duo underwater MP3 player, or USMS apparel—provided by the NELMSC via bib number lottery. Athletes in both races admired the beauty of Lake Willoughby and competed in the spirit of the Northeast Kingdom: No lanes, no lines, no limits.
NEKOWSA will host next year’s USMS Ultramarathon-Distance Open Water National Championship at Lake Memphremagog on July 25, 2020.
Contributed by Mindy Williams, NELMSC Pool Sanctions Chair
GWANGJU, SOUTH KOREA — There was so much to be impressed by at the FINA World Masters Championships in Gwangju, South Korea August 5-18, 2019. The venue was spectacular, featuring a 50-meter state-of-the-art competition pool, an adjacent diving well, and two on-site warm-up pools (both 50-meter), one indoor and one outdoor. The facility, the existing natatorium for Nambu University, was renovated for the FINA World Championships and held spectator seating for close to 10,000 people. Between races, there was the option to hit up the Marketplace: a row of food trucks, beer tents and vendors just around the corner from the pool.
Many of the Masters swimmers stayed at the “Athletes’ Village” accommodations, just a 10-minute shuttle ride from the pool and a neat way to immerse oneself in the spirit of the event. The Athletes’ Village consisted of a half-dozen brand new apartment buildings housing visiting athletes from all over the world, plus a dining hall, convenience stores, a recreation room, and several offices staffed with volunteers eager to help the foreigners with their transportation and site-seeing needs. There was an entertainment venue as well, and the event organizers had a nice menu of South Korean artistic performances for their visitors to enjoy each night. And to quench the thirst of all the accomplished Masters swimmers, there was a “vivid beer party” each night at the dining facility—simply a few taps of tasty Korean brews.
With just over 4,000 participating athletes, the impressive element of having 3,000+ attentive volunteers was very noticeable. There were smiling, welcoming faces at every turn, eager to help the athletes find their way and make their visit to Gwangju a memorable one. Like any World Championship, having the common ground of sports and health was an easy way to make new international friends. I found myself in the ready room before races with swimmers from all over the world who were friendly, chatty, and all the while focused on the races that loomed. After a few days of racing, the faces behind the blocks became more and more familiar, and contact info, swim caps, and selfies started to be exchanged with ease!
There was wonderful camaraderie among the New England swimmers as well. We enjoyed many meals together and donned our Team USA t-shirts each morning at breakfast and onto the podium. We enjoyed cheering for one another and sharing stories of interesting travel and excursions. There was no lull in entertaining anecdotes about visiting South Korea. Training for Fukuota 2021 will commence as soon as the 13-hour jetlag subsides!
Contributed by Jennifer Downing, NEM-CRM
SAA Boston Harbor Swim
My favorite day of the year happens each July—the Swim Across America (SAA) Boston Harbor Swim. This year’s event was particularly special in that we honored long-time Event Director extraordinaire and my dear friend, Kitty Tetrault, after 30 years of incredible service. When Kitty asks you to help the only answer is “of course!,” so I promised I’d be back from my family vacation in time. Each swimmer is asked to raise at least $2,000 to help fund quality-of-life clinical research at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and pediatric oncology research at Mass General Hospital for Children Cancer Center. Collectively we raised over $260,000 this year for these terrific institutions.
The Harbor Swim takes the form of a “relay” with two boats dropping their 8-12 swimmers in alternating, 15-minute heats over the course of the day. While most swimmers complete 4-5 heats on average, a select number of participants are designated as “angel swimmers,” meaning that they volunteer to do extra heats and keep any swimmers company who may be less comfortable in the ocean. I was lucky enough to complete 15 heats as an angel swimmer this year, totaling just over three hours in the water. Mother Nature gave us a bit of everything: the morning started with fog and misty drizzle, but by the return leg we had blue skies and sunshine. We also had the benefit of a strong tide on the way out, so we arrived at the Boston Light very quickly and were able to enjoy a more leisurely trip past Georges, Lovells, Gallops, Long, and Spectacle Island as the weather improved. Major kudos and thanks to Kitty for a stellar career, and please consider coming out to one of the Boston-area SAA events in the future!
Two days after SAA Boston Harbor, I headed north to the 5th Annual Misery Challenge, a multi-sport event offering a 3-mile or 1.5-mile swim (new this year), SUP, row, or kayak. Each year Race Director Josh Crosby makes this event bigger and better, bringing in local sponsors and raising awareness for Humans for Oceans. The event is named for Misery Island in Manchester, MA and the swim consists of a lollipop-shaped course heading out through the Manchester Channel to the island and back. The tide was high and the water temperature was great, but the sun glare on the return leg made sighting a real challenge. Plus, the buoys seemed nicely closer together at the start but were spread further apart as you got into the course; I guess that’s half the fun of being a “Challenge Finisher!” This was my 4th time doing the 3-mile and I was pleased to finish 8th non-wetsuit overall, as the 4th female and 1st in my age group.
Nubble Light Challenge
Continuing up the coast a bit further, I found myself three weeks later in York, ME for the Nubble Light Challenge, a 2.4-mile swim to benefit the Maine Chapter of NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Although the ocean was unseasonably warm by early August, a mid-week storm and strong off-shore breezes sucked all the warm water out to sea just days before the event. That meant on race day that we were faced with 56 degrees in the “Gut” (the narrow passage between the peninsula and the Nubble Light island), and sub-60 for the entire swim. In addition to the cold temps, we faced a cross-wind that caused “washing machine” action for much of the second half. I love days when the ocean has “personality,” but this race was not for the faint of heart. Race directors Bob Reed, Bob Fernald, and Jennifer Zorn and their safety crew did a great job monitoring the course and had stressed early on that wetsuits were encouraged. One hundred thirty swimmers finished the race, and of the 18 “skins,” most were fellow members of the Nahant Knuckleheads or L Street gang, so we were a small but mighty bunch. This was only my second time doing the swim, but I will definitely be back for more! Eric Nilsson (overall winner, and “skin” swimmer, no less!) shared drone footage taken by his dad. It truly is a beautiful spot, even if the aerials don’t do the waves justice.
Contributed by Charlotte Brynn, NELMSC Open Water Chair
NEWPORT, VT — The 11th Annual Kingdom Swim was held on Saturday, July 27th under sunny skies at Lake Memphremagog in Newport, Vermont. In 73-75F waters, swimmers raced the 1 mile, 5 km, 10 km, 10 mile, or 25 km Border Buster event to Canada and back. U.S. Masters Swimming clubs from around the nation were well-represented, with 120 swimmers coming from California, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, New Mexico, and more. Many New England LMSC athletes posted top finishes.
NELMSC Vice-Chair Guy Davis (GBM), 60, won the men’s 25 km Border Buster race in 7:28:16, taking home a beautifully hand-carved Vermont walking stick. Bill Shipp (UMAC), 66, was runner up and third place went to Martin McMahon (CONN), 56. Twenty-two-year-old Melissa Andrews of Franconia, NH won her own Vermont walking stick by finishing first in the women’s Border Buster in 7:33:44. Runner up was 53-year-old Charlotte Brynn (NEM-STOW) and third place went to Abigail Onos, 24, of Arlington, VA.
In the 10-mile race, 52-year-old Robert Breital of Philadelphia, PA finished first overall in 4:43:27, followed by Christopher Borgatti, 42, of Byfield, MA. Steven Spiegel, 58, of Amherst, MA took third place in the men’s division. On the women’s side, 40-year-old Puranjot Khalsa (MESC) placed first, besting Britt Hulbert, 50, of Bar Harbor, ME and Ruth Gilgenbach, 35, of Lawrence Township, NJ.
In the 10 km race, Mark Loftis (PSM-MIR), 59, stormed away from the field to emerge first in a time of 2:48:36. The women’s 10k came down to the finish with Jocelyn Stephen, 43, of Toronto, ON besting 39-year-old Hilary Sullivan (NEM-SIMM) by only 21 seconds to take first in a time of 3:17:35.
Sheldon Katz, 60, of South Burlington, VT finished first in the 5 km event, with second place going to Dane Krampitz, 62, of Groton, MA. In the women’s field Teresa Holland (NEM-YNS), 50, finished first in 1:31:58 and Cara Hancy (NEM-JSC), 40, was second. Katz also won the men’s 1-mile event in 23:35 while 58-year-old Karen Harrison (PCAT) won the women’s event in 25:14.
Next year’s Kingdom Swim will be held on July 25th, 2020. The 10-mile Kingdom Swim race will be the 2020 USMS Ultramarathon-Distance Open Water Championship. Other Kingdom Swim courses include the 25km Border Buster, the 10km Kingdom Swim, the 5km Kingdom Swim, and the 1-mile Kingdom Swim. Mark your calendar & set a goal to compete and enjoy the beauty and friendliness of open-water competition in the scenic Northeast Kingdom of Vermont!
Contributed by Gary Girolimon, Race Director
GOFFSTOWN, NH — The Glen Lake Swim, Episode 2: Glennie Rises, held on August 11th, attracted swimmers from throughout New England and beyond. The U.S. Masters Swimming-sanctioned competition featured a one-mile and a two-mile race. The weather could not have been more perfect, with 80 degree air temperatures and 74 degree waters.
Glennie, the friendly lake monster, is the mascot of the event. Glennie and similar lake monsters such as Champ of Lake Champlain, Memphre of Lake Memphremagog and Winni of Lake Winnipesaukee, are part of Native American folklore, so it was fitting that Chief Paul W. Pouliot of the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook Abenaki People made an offering to the aquatic life before the race start.
All swimmers took home a "Piece of the Beast," a Glennie tooth finisher medal. Many swimmers reported seeing Glennie on the waters, but the creature kept its distance and did not interfere with the race. There were abundant awards and raffles, separate scoring divisions for wetsuited and “skins” athletes, and a very unique Jurassic Park Glennie t-shirt for all participants.
After the swim a mini-expo was held at the site featuring local artists, salsa dancing and Glennie-themed kids' activities such as coloring and face painting. After the awards ceremony, the celebration moved to the Harpoon Brewery-sponsored party at Village Trestle in Goffstown.
The event is organized under the umbrella of the Granite State Health and Fitness Foundation, a 501(c)3 non-profit, and all profits from the event will be used to to promote aquatic safety, to enhance health and wellness, and to promote area recreational opportunities.
One Mile - Skins
TOP 3 FEMALE
Aileen O'Connell 30:11
Rachel Modlinsky 30:16
Alexis Dwyer 31:58
TOP 3 MALE
Parker Wheat 26:06
Michael Giraldi 26:59
Abhinav Sridhar 27:41
One Mile - Wetsuit
TOP 3 FEMALE
Kelley O'hara 39:10
Andrea Bonito 39:12
Kristine Decourcey 39:13
TOP 3 MALE
Patrick McDeed 27:12
Matthew Stundtner 31:13
Timothy Collard 32:36
Two Mile - Skins
TOP 3 FEMALE
Katharine Radville 55:57
Madison Guay 58:10
Abby Brethauer 58:54
TOP 3 MALE
Frans Lawaetz 58:00
Sean Carter 58:38
Gil Rosenberg 1:04:30
Two Mile - Wetsuit
TOP 3 FEMALE
Jocelyn Nokes 55:14
Molly Zahr 58:40
Linda Watts 59:20
TOP 3 MALE
Stuart Cromarty 49:04
Nic Ohman 50:29
Adam Langmaid 55:44
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:
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.
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.
Contributed by Sue Jensen, Officials Chair, NEM-CRM
MONTRÉAL, CANADA — The swimming pool in the complexe sportif Claude-Robillard, built for the 1976 Summer Olympics water polo competitions, was the setting for this year’s Canadian Masters Swimming Championships from May 24-26. A record 740 swimmers gathered together for the 40th anniversary of this annual meet. Swimmers came from all ten provinces of Canada and a handful of countries from around the world, including Australia, Bermuda, Great Britain, and Slovakia. Sixty swimmers hailed from the United States, with sixteen coming from New England.
The Americans swam well, winning 108 gold medals and placing second overall ahead of CAMO Natation, the provincial home team from Québec. The New England team included: Fiona Atkinson, Christina Baudis, Dave Bright, Guy Davis, Laura Delorey, Beth Estel, David Graham, Sue Jensen, Frankin Mansilla, Karen Mareb, Janet McDonough, Nic Ohman, Tom Phillips, Kathy Slifer, Marilyn Soraghan, and Mindy Williams.
Most of Team New England drove through Vermont and across the U.S.-Canada border, passports in hand, to attend the three-day French-speaking meet. Not only was this an occasion for New Englanders to practice their French, but with the New England short course meters season having ended in December at the WPI meet, it was a welcome out-of-season opportunity to compete in short course meters.
Highlight swims by New Englanders include:
Dave Bright (age 66) won the 200 IM, 400 IM, and 200 backstroke and broke New England records in 400 freestyle, 400 IM, and 200 backstroke.
Mindy Williams (age 38) won the 1500 freestyle while setting a New England record and logging a personal best time by 21 seconds.
Karen Mareb (age 60) won gold in all her breaststroke events and the 100 freestyle.
Tom Phillips (age 45) won the 50 freestyle and swam a lifetime best time of 24.76.
Marilyn Soraghan and Laura Delorey made it to the finals of the age 50+ bonus 25-meter freestyle race (amid much fanfare!).
The quartet of Janet McDonough, Beth Estel, Sue Jensen, and Karen Mareb (age group 240-279) took first place and broke the New England record in both the 200 and 400 medley relays and are now ranked 2nd (400m) and 3rd (200m) on FINA’s World Masters Top Ten List.
The 41st Canadian Masters Championship will be held in Toronto, Ontario in June 2020.
Contributed by Joan Hudak, NEM-CRM
Over 100 USMS members took part in U.S. Masters Swimming’s Boston-area education weekend April 6-7. Offerings included USMS Level 1 & 2 Coach Certification, USMS Level 3 Coach Certification, USMS Adult Learn-to-Swim (ALTS) Instructor Certification, USMS Clinic Course for Coaches, and a USMS Stroke Clinic for swimmers that also served as practical experience for the Clinic Course participants. Read on for newly certified coach Joan Hudak’s perspective on the Level 1 & 2 Coach Certification experience.
MARLBOROUGH, MA — I fell in love with swimming at age six when my mom signed me up for a small summer league with an irregularly-sized pool. I raced through childhood, high school, and college, and by the end of my senior year I was beyond ready for a break. After some time off, some triathlons, and a lot of solo training, I joined U.S Masters Swimming at age 28.
At Masters practice, one of the first things I noticed was how much more passionate about the sport my teammates were than I remembered being when I was younger. When I raced as a kid, I felt like I was partly swimming for someone else: for my parents, for my coaches, for my teammates. Now, I saw how excited my teammates were to swim for themselves. Many didn’t have the benefit of learning at a young age like I did, and they were eager to try new techniques and learn new strokes. Techniques I found intuitive were completely unknown to some of the newer swimmers, and the more I trained with them, the more I wanted to share my knowledge and experience.
This realization drove me to sign up for the USMS Level 1 & 2 Coaching Certification class. I completed the short reading assignment in advance, but as a kinesthetic learner I wasn’t quite sure how a day in a classroom would translate to the pool deck. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the course was run in a workshop-type setting, with frequent breaks and practical exercises to actively engage us in what we were learning.
After a quick round of introductions, it was clear that the 40 participants came from vastly different backgrounds, and that many were still relatively new to the sport. While some of the students were actively coaching for their respective USMS or USAT programs, others, myself included, were there for the love of swimming and desire to begin coaching following the class.
The day began with a brief review of our 15-page reading assignment: a history of United States Masters Swimming, the values and structure of the organization, and basic business practices for managing a safe, inclusive USMS club. We then dove (pun intended) into some coaching techniques and strategies for teaching adult learners – explaining the what, why, and how of each drill or set will ultimately help improve their swimming the most. We also spent a large portion of the class discussing the different types of swimmers that may join a Masters program, and some of the benefits or challenges they may face there.
We then moved onto some practical applications, such as strategies for and benefits of writing workouts of differing intensities (aerobic, anaerobic, VO2 Max, test sets) and setting SMART goals with your athletes. We spent time learning the basics of teaching stroke technique and discussed the necessity of being flexible in teaching, working around injuries, tips for correcting poor technique, and some drills for each of the four strokes (five, when you include the streamline!), turns, and starts. We watched several videos (above and underwater) of Masters swimmers and analyzed their technique and what they may need to work on.
The class ended with a quick assessment and we received our Level 1 and 2 certificates. Not only did I leave feeling confident to work with my own athletes, but I also felt like my own swimming benefitted from the techniques we discussed. I left wanting to try the new drills, work on my walls, and practice my weaker strokes. Overall, I was pleased with how much I gained from a single day in the classroom, and would highly recommend taking the course if you have the opportunity.
Contributed by Jason Weis, NELMSC College Club Swimming Liaison
ATLANTA, GA — Over President’s Day weekend this February, I traveled to Atlanta, GA to participate in the third annual College Club Swimming Summit. College Club Swimming (CCS) is a new governing body that was founded with the help of U.S. Masters Swimming. Now in its second year, CCS serves as a bridge between high school swimmers who didn’t or couldn’t swim on a varsity team in college and U.S. Masters Swimming.
Much like USMS, CCS is led by an Advisory Board consisting of volunteers who are elected to two-year terms and serve as leadership on their local teams. Although CCS is backed by USMS, it is financially independent and almost entirely student-run, with just a small number of CCS alumni and USMS members sitting on the Advisory Board. USMS helps provide infrastructure for CCS to keep swimmers in the sport and aims to transition CCS members to USMS after graduation.
This past year, CCS launched a wide variety of enhancements for its members. A new USMS-CCS bridge membership allows CCS members to swim in USMS sanctioned and recognized events while continuing to represent their CCS team in a new College Club Swimming LMSC. Additionally, CCS hosted its first Regional Championship series, with successful meets hosted at Rutgers University in the Northern region and Nova Southeastern in the Southern Region. CCS acquired its first sponsor in FINIS, the title sponsor for the CCS’s second national championship meet. Held at the Ohio State University from March 29-31, the 2019 FINIS College Club National Championships featured online meet entry through Club Assistant and drew 1,863 athletes from around the country. Online meet entry for all CCS meets is scheduled to become available to CCS Clubs in Fall 2019.
At the Summit, Advisory Board members discussed a wide variety of topics, including best practices for clubs, inclusion and diversity within CCS, and amended rules of the governing handbook. For the first time, all three committees of the Advisory Board (Club Development, Rules, and Competition) met separately to discuss specific challenges and issues within CCS. It was an incredibly productive summit, resulting in improved organization and structure within the Advisory Board while promoting a low barrier of entry to CCS with the goal of maximizing CCS membership.
In the New England area, there are currently about 10 CCS-affiliated clubs, including Harvard, Northeastern, UMASS, UVM, URI, CCRI, Brown, and UCONN, with several more intending to join for the 2019-2020 season.
Jason is currently serving as an alumni-advisor to the CCS Advisory Board and is the chair of the CCS Rules committee. If you’d like more information about CCS, want to register a team, or have other questions, please contact him.