NEWPORT — The Marathon Swimmers Federation recently recognized Phil White for a decade of work in developing open water swims in the Northeast Kingdom.
White was the recipient of the 2019-2020 MSF Service to Marathon Swimming Award, recognizing outstanding contributions to the sport in a non-swimming role.
He was the leading nominee from a round of write-in nominations from the MSF membership earlier this year.
The MSF recognized that few open water swimming organizers have built so much, from so little.
White is the founder of the Kingdom Swim, In Search of Memphre, Swim the Kingdom week, the Memphremagog Winter Swimming Festival, and the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association.
Starting with the 10-mile Kingdom Swim in 2009, White gradually expanded to a year-round program of events with the Kingdom Games.
By 2019, Kingdom Games supported 171 swimmers on 16 distinct marathon swims, as part of over 30 days of running, biking, swimming, kayaking, speed skating, Nordic skating, and winter swimming events, involving over 1,500 athletes from around the nation and abroad.
In addition to event organizing, White has piloted and crewed on numerous solo swims, including Sarah Thomas’ world-record-setting 104-mile Lake Champlain swim.
“In his ambitious vision to create world-class open-water swimming opportunities in an improbable, landlocked location, Phil stands among the most powerful and consistent contributors to the sport over the past 10 years,” Evan Morrison said. “To paraphrase a famous movie line: He built it, and they came.”
White says that he is honored and humbled at receiving this recognition from this community of marathon open water swimmers.
“More so, because it recognizes that the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont has truly become an unlikely mecca for open water swimmers from around North America and around the world,” White said. “Even more so, because this evolution has only been possible with the robust help of so many friends, volunteers, local businesses, sponsors, partners, cities, and towns, all who have shared the vision and who tolerate my touch of crazy and restless push.”