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Swimmer completes record double crossing of Lake Memphremagog

in Magog/Newport/News

NEWPORT — A record-breaking ultra-marathon open water swim has been completed on Lake Memphremagog by an Indiana man.

Stephen Rouch of Indianapolis swam the 50-mile length of Lake Memphremagog between Newport, Vermont, and Magog, Quebec, and back to Newport, in 25 hours and 12 minutes.

Rouch left from the EastSide Restaurant in Newport at 11:00 a.m. on August 22, and cleared the water in Magog at 10:40 p.m., completing the first crossing in 11 hours and 40 minutes.

He re-entered the water in Magog at 10.43 p.m. and swam back to Newport, clearing the water at the Eastside Restaurant at 12:12 p.m., completing his second crossing in a time of 13 hours and 32 minutes.

He did so in full compliance with the general standards for channel crossing and open water marathon swimming, and fully consistent with the rules established by the Marathon Swimmers Federation.

In doing so, he became the first male to swim a double crossing of Lake Memphremagog and also the fastest in compliance with these general standards.

Rouch maintained a blistering pace averaging 2 mph despite facing a feisty headwind soon after crossing the border into Canada.

His fast, consistent pace and supportive, well-equipped team helped him clock the fastest double crossing of Lake Memphremagog in history.

The swim is part of a series of expeditions and solo swims of the length of Lake Memphremagog known as In Search of Memphre, organized and hosted by Kingdom Games, and sanctioned by the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association.

70-year-old sets records in 25-mile Lake Memphremagog swim

in Magog/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — On Monday, 70-year-old Dan Shub of Baltimore, MD, swam the 25-mile length of Lake Memphremagog, between Newport, Vermont, and Magog, Quebec, or, as it’s also known, “In Search of Memphre.”

He is the oldest person to complete this 25-mile swim.

He entered the water at 11:22 p.m. on Sunday, July 7, 2019, at the EastSide Restaurant in Newport, and exited at Park de Baie-du-Magog on July 8, at 8:33 p.m.

Shub also set the record for the longest time in the water to successfully complete the distance, at 21 hours and 11 minutes.

He is the 36th person to complete “the Search” since the swim was started in 2011 on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 by Elaine Kormbau Howley and Phil White, to promote a more open border by re-opening the lake to international swimming.

This year, Dan dedicated his swim to the Lost Children.

At a young age, Shub became a cancer survivor, which led him into an active lifestyle as a triathlete and long-distance open water swimmer.

He has participated in many swims in the Northeast Kingdom, including two 25 km Border Busters at Kingdom Swim and last year’s July Expeditionary Search, in which he was beaten back by high winds in his face, but only after he had completed 16 miles of very tough swimming.

He was among 5 others who failed to complete that day, while only 2 made it to the finish.

This year, he returned to finish business.

Photo by Phil White.

Four more swimmers complete 25-mile marathon swim from Newport to Magog

in Magog/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — This week four marathon open water swimmers completed the 25-mile, international swim on Lake Memphremagog between Newport, Vermont, and Magog, Quebec, known as In Search of Memphre.

On Wednesday, they entered the water from the EastSide Restaurant at midnight, swam through the night, and arrived at the beach at Parc du la Baie-du-Magog in the early afternoon.

Susan L. Knight, 48, of Kennebunk, ME, completed in 12 hours and 59 minutes, followed by Abigail Fairman, 41, of New York, NY, in 13 hours and 40 minutes.

Kate English, 30, of Seattle, Washington, completed in 13 hours and 56 minutes, and Daniela Klaz, 26, of Jamaica Plain, MA in 14 hours and 26 minutes.

Water temperature of the lake ranged from 68 to 70 F. Air temperatures dropped to the high 50’s during the night and rose to the high 60s and low 70’s during the day.

Winds were light and variable throughout the swim.

The swim is organized and hosted by Kingdom Games which now offers over 25 days of running, biking, swimming, and ice skating in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Zebra mussels identified in Magog Bay, Lake Memphremagog

in Magog/Newport/News

NEWPORT — This week the Memphremagog Conservation Inc (MCI) released a study confirming that there are zebra mussels present in Magog Bay, which is located at the northern edge of Lake Memphremagog in Quebec.

Zebra mussels are an invasive species. They are a small freshwater mollusk that attaches to firm surfaces and can clog pipes and other underwater infrastructure.

They are also filter-feeders, consuming microscopic aquatic life that is the base of the food web for lakes. Their feeding habits can impact the native species that also consume those food sources.

“Currently we have not found any zebra mussels in the US portion of Lake Memphremagog,” says Kendall Lambert, Administrative Director of the Memphremagog Watershed Association. “Every year, we work closely with the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation and a group of local volunteers to patrol our lake and survey for aquatic invasive species. Our patrollers will be on the lookout for zebra mussels.”

The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (VTDEC) has also received the report from MCI.

Josh Mulhollem, Aquatic Invasive Species Management Coordinator at VTDEC, says that the Department will be ramping up sampling efforts for zebra mussels in Memphremagog over the next couple months, will be expanding their educational campaign in the region, and will be convening a meeting of all involved stakeholders to discuss steps going forward.

Although no zebra mussels have been found in the southern part of Memphremagog, visitors are encouraged to take extra caution in draining and drying watercraft and equipment after leaving the lake.

This year, the City of Newport received just over $17,000 in grant money from the state of Vermont to support a high-tech boat washing station with State-trained greeters at the city dock.

The city has also invested in a hydro-raking operation to control the infestation of the invasive Eurasian watermilfoil around the boat launch that impedes navigation.

“There are a lot of factors which contribute to whether or not zebra mussels can thrive in a lake,” Lambert said. “Right now, we simply don’t have enough information to know how or if they might spread. It’s about early detection, planning, and spread prevention.

Teen becomes youngest to complete historic 25-mile swim across Memphremagog

in Magog/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Swimmers participating in the 25-mile length of Lake Memphremagog amateur swim known as “In Search of Memphre,” were greeted with headwinds from the north ranging from 10 to 20 MPH for the first 15 miles on Wednesday. The waves and chop were high.

Despite conditions, two of the seven swimmers completed the international swim that starts in Newport, Vermont, and ends in Magog, Quebec.

Sharessa Guiterrez, 37, of Omaha, Nebraska completed with a time of 15 hours and 51 minutes.

Vera Rivard, 14, of Springfield, New Hampshire and Derby, Vermont, came in at 16 hours and 24 minutes. In doing so, she became the youngest person ever to cross the 25 miles of Lake Memphremagog.

Five other swimmers laid down inspiring swims and completed various distances fighting the headwinds.

Cara Marie Manlandro, 28, of Derwood, Maryland, completed 23.5 miles before communication difficulties regarding the landing location caused her to end her swim, just short of the finish.

Sandra Frimerman-Bergquist, 34, of Exelsior, MN, Eric Schall, 57, of Kingston, PA, Dan Shub, 69 of Baltimore, MD, and Mary Stabinsky, 41, of Plains, PA, completed various distances ranging from 6 to 17 miles.

Shub was the oldest person to attempt a Memphremagog Crossing and the last of those to pull. He completed 17 miles.

Swimmers left Newport at 5:31 a.m. as the sun began to rise.

Water temperatures ranged from 72 through 74 throughout the day, with sunny skies. The air temperature was in the 60s and 70s, and the high winds began to diminish at around noon.

In Search of Memphre was started in 2011 to promote a more open border with Canada.

Swimmers in this year’s Search dedicated their swims to the Asylum Seekers and are encouraging donations to the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project at https://asylumadvocacy.org/

The swim was organized by Kingdom Games, which hosts over 25 days of running, biking, swimming and ice skating events in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and the Eastern Townships of Quebec.

Flag exchange celebrates two active watershed stewards of Lake Memphremagog

in Eastern Townships/Magog/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Thirty people enjoyed a perfect summer day floating along the US – Canadian border to honor the dual citizenship of beautiful Lake Memphremagog and the anniversaries of the lake’s two active watershed stewards. 

Memphremagog Conservation, Inc (MCI), is celebrating 50 years and Memphremagog Watershed Association (MWA), 10 years. 

On board for the celebration were representatives from MCI and founding member of MWA Chet Greenwood, first president of MWA and founding board members, Ginnie Bowman, King Boyd, and Doug McKenny.

MWA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve the beauty and waters of over 22 lakes and ponds, east to Brighton, south to Craftsbury, west to Lowell, and north into Canada.

The rivers that flow north into Lake Memphremagog and on to Canada are the Clyde, Black, Barton and Johns. 

Activities of MWA include invasive species patrolling and cyanobacteria monitoring, education and outreach programs to encourage participation in the preservation of the environment and natural beauty of the watershed. 

  • DSC_0245-001-2.jpg
    Photo by Phil White.

Another swimmer goes the 25-mile distance between Newport and Magog

in Magog/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — Last week Charlotte Brynn swam the 25-mile distance on Lake Memphremagog between Magog, Quebec, and Newport, Vermont, in 13 hours and 28 minutes.

She left the public beach in Magog at 5:33 a.m., arriving at 7:01 p.m. at Newport City Dock.

Brynn is a New Zealander currently living in Stowe, where she works as director of the Swimming Hole.

Brynn chose to swim north to south, in the face of a slight current against her and head winds that rose to 10 to 12 mph on occasion.

The winds were calm during the start and calmed again during the last few hours of her swim. Water temperature at the surface was 72 to 73 F throughout the swim. The air temperature was in the 60s at the start of the swim but rose into the 80s in the afternoon.

Cynthia Needham, of Hyde Park, served as crew for Brynn in the escort boat, Django, a handmade 16’ wooden dory, piloted by Phil White of Kingdom Games.

This was the second time Brynn has swum the 25-mile distance on Lake Memphremagog. She was one of four swimmers to complete the inaugural “In Search of Memphre” in 2011.

Brynn is a well-known and accomplished ultra-marathon swimmer, having swum the 28 miles around Manhattan, crossed the Catalina Channel in California, and double crossing Lake Champlain.

Last year she established swims from Newport to Skinner Island and Smugglers Cave, and from Newport around Ile Ronde.

In 2016 she was inducted into the Vermont Open Water Swimming Hall of Fame.

Lenning and kayaker Don Houghton Jr. of Craftsbury in Derby Bay heading north.

Craig Lenning completes 25 mile swim from Newport to Magog

in Magog/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Craig Lenning, 36, from Denver, Colorado and his wife, May Spengler, came to town to quietly take care of some unfinished business. A 25 mile international swim between Newport, Vermont and Magog, Quebec.

Twice denied in September of 2014, first by a thunderstorm and then by a sudden illness, Lenning was able to pass in his third attempt at this 25 mile international swim.

Leaning battled 10 to 15 mile headwinds during miles 4 through 8 and again at 10 through 12. Once he passed Georgeville they turned to crosswinds. The skies were sunny and fair most of the way, with water temperatures ranging from 62 to 66 degrees.

Things were looking good until mile 19, when nausea began to take over. Boat fumes from a shifting wind were a contributing factor.

Lenning faced off a difficult final 6 miles, but was not to be denied, finishing in a time of 15 hours and 5 minutes. A light shower and a brilliant double rainbow greeted him as he passed by the Three Sister Islands, two miles out.

Lenning, his wife and crew May Spengler, and Don Houghton, Jr. at the City Dock at the start. All photos by Phil White.
Lenning, his wife and crew May Spengler, and Don Houghton, Jr. at the City Dock at the start. All photos by Phil White.

Lenning showed serious determination to finish just as the sun was setting.

Don Houghton, Jr. of Craftsbury, kayaked for him the entire swim, with Phil White and May Spengler providing support from a pontoon boat generously provided by Fran Azur and Melanie Gefert.

  Lenning and kayaker Don Houghton Jr. of Craftsbury in Derby Bay heading north.
Lenning and kayaker Don Houghton Jr. of Craftsbury in Derby Bay heading north.
Lenning swimming by Georgeville.
Lenning swimming by Georgeville.
Photo courtesy of Phil White.

Open water swimming season underway in the NEK

in Arts and Entertainment/Magog/Newport

NEWPORT — The open water swimming season on Lake Memphremagog is underway as lake temperatures continue to rise. The Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association’s First Splash on May 24 saw four swimmers take on the 54 degree water. Charlotte Brynn, a Kiwi living in Stowe, and Amanda Hunt, an Aussie living in Naperville, Illinois, spent 45 minutes in the water.

Francine Amyot and Michel Gagne from Levis, Quebec also swam.

This past weekend, Paula Yankauskas, 60, of Hyde Park became the first of the year to swim from The Clubhous to Bell Island as water temperatures hit 60 degrees.

Coming up this month are two swims on June 20, and June 27, in Newport and Derby Bay. These swims will consist of two, four, and six mile distances. Each swim is limited to 10 swimmers on each day, as each swimmer must be accompanied by a kayaker.

On July 25, a few hundred swimmers and kayakers will take to the lake for the Seventh Annual Kingdom Swim. They are travelling from 24 different states and Canadian provinces and as far away as Saudi Arabia to participate in this annual celebration of open water swimming.

Lake Memphremagog and Lake Willoughby have been selected by Open Water Source as two of the 50 great open water swimming venues in all of North America. Swimming events now take place throughout the summer on both sides of the border in Magog, Newport, and Derby.

Both Kingdom Swim and La Traversee International du Lac Memphremagog have been included in the list of the top 100 swims in the world, making Lake Memphremagog the only freshwater body of water to make the list twice.

Photo courtesy of Phil White.
Photo courtesy of Phil White.

This year’s La Traversee, the professional swim organized out of Magog, Quebec will be on August 1. There are a number of shorter amateur swims also organized on Thursday and Friday before the 34K swim on Saturday.

The Fifth Annual In Search of Memphre will see four amateur swimmers attempting the 25 mile international swim on September 5th of this year. One of the four will attempt to swim the lake one way and run back to the start.

For more information on these swims visit www.kingdomswim.org.

This year a portion of the registration fees from Kingdom Swim will be dedicated to a special project of the Memphremagog Watershed Association.

Magog police seize more than 300 marijuana plants during Thursday morning raid

in Eastern Townships/Magog/Quebec

MAGOG, QC — Police in Magog are reporting that they took down a major marijuana cultivation site this morning at around 8:00 a.m.

According to police, the bust took place on St. Anne Street in the Omerville sector. Police had been investigating the apartment building for more than two weeks, collecting evidence and waiting to be issued a search warrant.

During the raid, a 43-year-old man was at the location and police say they consider him to be the main suspect. He was arrested for cultivation of marijuana and possession of marijuana.

The search resulted in the seizure of more than 300 marijuana plants, an undisclosed amount of marijuana “in bulk,” and a production schedule.

Police also discovered the facility was stealing electricity, which was later confirmed by Hydro-Québec.

Magog police are saying that the suspect has several criminal records dating back to the early 1990s.

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