NEWPORT — Over the weekend, Lake Memphremagog welcomed open water swimmers and “yackers” to the 9th Annual Kingdom Swim.
They came from 25 different states, two Canadian provinces, and Argentina, with ages ranging from 10 to 74.
This year’s swim was underwritten by North Country Hospital.
Sandra Frimerman-Berquist, age 34 of Excelsior, MN, smashed the record for the 25 km, Border Buster with a time of 5:49:55, leading a record number of 30 swimmers to complete the event.
Winning among the men was Stephen Rouch, 37, of Indianapolis, IN, who finished with a time of 6:25:48.
Stealing the show was 13-year-old, Vera Rivard, of Springfield, NH, who came in third among the females and fifth overall, with a time of 7:15:33. She is the youngest ever to complete the Border Buster.
The “most mature” to complete the Buster was Dan Shaub, 68, of Baltimore Maryland, with a time of 9:58:59. He and his local “yacker” Pam Ladds sported a combined age of 136.
The Busters headed out at 6:00 a.m. with mist rising from the lake after a cold night, but had the benefit of light tail winds from the south as they headed north and then from the north as they headed south back from Canada.
One of the purposes of this cross-border swim is to promote a more open border. This year everyone celebrated a change in Canadian rules that now coincides with US rules that you don’t need to report at the crossing if you don’t touch Canadian soil or a Canadian boat.
Taking home walking sticks, hand-carved by Bill Peck of Derby, in the WOWSA 10 Mile Championship were Anthony Szmul, 24, of Queensbury, NY (4:36:57) and Emily Boerger, 22 of Kingston, MA (4:47:54).
Margaret Rivard, age 10, of Springfield, NH, became the youngest to complete the 10-mile course which she did with a time of 5:50:12, placing her in the middle of the pack.
Eric Nilsson, 30, of Cambridge, MA, returned for another year, and claimed the crown as king of the 10 km with his blistering time of 2:03:34. Eric is one of the fastest swimmers to ply the waters of Lake Memphremagog .
Winning among the women was Rachel Horgan, 31, of Atkinson, NH, with a time of 2:23:56.
Kevin Jaubert, 45, of Towson, MD finished second. He’s one of two “lifers” who have swum in every single Kingdom Swim since it was started in 2009.
In the 5-km distance, it was a battle of east and west among the women, with Elizabeth Mancuso, 31, of Boston, MA, (1:09:49) fending off Ali Hall, 55, of San Francisco, CA (1:15:24).
Winning among the men was Lawton Harper, 50, of North Conway, NH, with a time of 1:23:13.
Laura Maliewski, 47, of Westmore, VT kept her streak alive as a “Lifer.”
In the 1-mile swim, Luke Nicholas, 14, of Mesa, AZ, gunned down Stephen Rouch, 37, of Indianapolis, IN, with a winning time of 0:19:28. But then, Stephen had just finished the Border Buster and was still hungry for one more mile in mighty Memphremagog before the day was done.
Luke’s dad, Kent Nicholas, narrowly missed the chance to swim the one-mile course with his son, completing the Border Buster in 8:25:15, just 25 minutes after the start of the 1 mile.
Among the females, Gayla Chalmers of Athens, GA, took first place with her time of 0:26:20.
Lilly Jaubert, 12, of Towson, MD won the miler among the female youth.
Winning in the ¼ was 10-year-old Claire Jaubert, of Towson, MD and Rex Lord, 11, of Bloomfield, NJ.
Prizes of Brault’s Beef Jerky and Couture’s Maple Syrup were offered up to the winners in each race, with jerky to the 2nd and third place finishers.
Music for the weekend was provided by Patti Casey and Tom Mackenzie on Friday evening, Kingdom Dixie and DJ Rena Demeo, during the swim, and by The Hitman at the Pig Roast and Party at Prouty after the swim.