In Search of Memphre 2013

FrancoFranco Chestertown, MDCharter Member
edited January 2017 in Cheering Section
Good luck to the swimmers and forum members. Looks like @ssthomas will be taking off in a few hours for a 50-mile double crossing attempt. WOW! The other three will join in around midnight for a 25 mile international crossing.

Thanks to @Fil and his team for presenting so many options for marathon swimmers in the Kingdom. I am looking forward to following and best wishes to all involved!

info and link to tracking at:


  • gregocgregoc Charter Member
  • gregocgregoc Charter Member
    It looks like Humphrey finished in about 15 hours. Bethany has about 2+ miles left. Sarah is just about 4 miles out of Magog and it looks like she will finish her 50 mile Memphre double in a few hours.
  • JBirrrdJBirrrd MarylandSenior Member
    Gorgeous location, phenomenal swimmers, great event.
    Wish I was there....on a support boat, not swimming.
  • gregocgregoc Charter Member
    It looks like Bethany B. finished in 17:20. Sarah T. has about 2 miles to go in her 50-mile double.
  • jendutjendut Charter Member
    Humphrey pulled out due to shoulder (I believe) somewhere past halfway. Sarah and Bethany were able to hang in in some tough conditions!
  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member
    Congrads to all the swimmers, especially @ssthomas :-) looks like you made it into the 24 hour club as well.
  • evmoevmo SydneyAdmin
    What a year for @ssthomas. She is approaching Barra Award territory, for sure :) Congrats!
  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member
    Well done! @Fil is going to run out of lakes and distances pretty soon. Keep an eye out for him trying to annex Upstate to his Kingdom.

    Have you found Memphre yet? You probably won't until you complete a quintuple crossing.

    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • david_barradavid_barra NYCharter Member
    This is Sarah's secon d sweet water double in a rather short interval. Very awesome!

    ...anything worth doing is worth overdoing.

  • lakespraylakespray Senior Member
    This is a Facebook note from Sarah's observer Bill Shipp, I thought it be worth sharing on this forum to illustrate the difficulties of a swim like this for both the swimmer and the crew.
    Bill Shipp One of the behind the scenes stories that the swimmers never know at the time: Sarah told us at or near the turn around that she was feeling cold. I kept notes in the log and watched her closely for signs of hypothermia. She seemed to be holding up well in all respects but Ryan and I were worried about her a little given the beating she took swimming against that nasty head wind for most of the first leg. We switched to the warm water feeds. We had several thermoses but soon found that a couple of them had gone cold after 12 hours on the boat. As we were running low on our supply, I radioed the command boat that we needed more warm water. At that time, two swimmers had pulled out and Phil managed to scavange and couple carafs of hot water from other support boats. As we used up that supply, our support boat No. 7 (the Lippons) motored ahead to Georgeville and rounded up two more carafs at the restaurant marina. The owners were excited to help. Those last carafs got us close enough to the finish.The entire team on the water (and the local community) was coordinating for Sarah and the other swimmers. It was an amazing experience to be a part of.
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
    It was an amazing experience to be a part of, and watching Bethany and Sarah walk ashore smiling after such a long haul was quite simply inspiring. Nicely done, ladies.

    And the support team was incredible. I'd like to give a special shout out to Alec van Zuiden, Mayor of Ayer's Cliff (who piloted the support boat I was on) who pulled all sorts of strings to get support on the Canadian side, including an EMT on super short notice to come check on the ladies (who didn't need him at all, but it made us support crew feel better to have a professional opinion on just how amazingly well they were at the finish). Not only was Alec a ton of fun to hang out with, but he knows absolutely everyone in Quebec and was able to keep the Magog Marine Unit well informed of what was going on. They were awesome, too. They didn't speak much English, but tailed us from Georgeville to the finish and did a great job warding off approaching boats. The two officers on board were supposed to clock off at 5 pm, but had gotten so invested in the swim, that they just stayed to watch until the end, cheering and honking the boat's horn in excitement at the end.

    @malinaka: There may or may not have been a Memphre encounter during the swim. I'll let the individual involved talk about that if so desired. But it was quite a night and day (or in Sarah's case, day, night, and day) and Memphre was definitely feeling frisky.

    Some additional information and photos now posted on the website.

    Hat's off to @Fil for yet another smashing success. I don't know how you do it, but keep on truckin', my friend.

    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...

  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    Hi everyone! I always love to do a write up about my swims, once they're done. I don't know if everyone is interested, but for what it's worth, below is my experience Searching for Memphre!

    This story really begins a few years ago: I read an account on this forum about the Search for Memphre in 2011, and I thought it would be a super cool event to participate in, especially since I love lakes so much more than oceans. I contacted Phil way back then for more info about the 2012 race. As it turned out, I made two trips to England in 2012 to swim the English Channel, so another swim definitely wasn't in the budget at that time. However, I promised Phil I'd be there in 2013.... and here we are.

    In July, as most of you know, I swam a double crossing of Lake Tahoe. 44 miles in 22.5 hours. And it was glorious. I loved every moment of it. A few weeks after that crossing, Phil emailed with the big question, "Have you considered doubling Memphremagog?" Of course, my response was, "Heck no! Never even crossed my mind." But, Phil (and perhaps Memphre) was up to no good, and he set forth to gently persuade me to consider it. I debated for a few weeks, put a few more 5-6 hour swims on my shoulders to test how they were holding up, and about a week before the swim, I committed myself to a double crossing, weather permitting. I never have had much good sense....

    Our journey to Newport was a little longer than anticipated, between flight delays and lost luggage. It was not made easier by the fact that on Labor Day, Ryan (my fiance and boat pilot) threw out his back. By Thursday, he was still in a lot of pain and I wasn't sure how he was going to manage 24+ hours on a boat. Long story short, the days leading up to the swim weren't ideal. Still, we forged on.

    On Friday, the day of the swim, we met Phil, my other crew member Bill Shipp (who drove all the way from Maryland to help me out, even though we'd never met!), and a few others at the park in Magog at a little after 11 am and loaded up the support boat.

    The conditions were less than ideal. The wind was blowing directly in our faces and the waves were crashing on the shore. I was later told the wind was blowing about 20 MPH, in exactly the wrong direction. I was a little apprehensive, to say the least. But, we forged ahead, hoping the wind would change direction, as the forecast had predicted. For the record, it didn’t change direction.
    Amazingly, Bethany, who would be swimming the race that night, came to see me off. It was a super kind gesture, and it meant a lot that she would wake up, drive to Canada, and help load an escort boat- when she herself was planning to swim 25 miles in 12 hours time. Amazing.

    So, all the circumstances above combined: And I set off just after noon on Friday.

    And I can't lie: It was miserable. I don't swim particularly well in wind and chop, and it was really rough going. It's hard to get your rhythm going when you never know when a wave is going to punch you in the face. But, as I always do- I just kept swimming. I don't like to complain, so I kept my thoughts to myself. I watched my crew get blown around and doused in water. And they didn't complain. And we just kept swimming.

    As the evening set in, it started to get a little chilly. The water temps were warm, probably in the upper 60s or low 70s. But, the high wind and low air temps were a tough combo. As the night progressed, it started to get colder and colder. Fortunately, the wind died down some and it didn't feel as cold for a while.

    At some point, I was told the others were starting in Newport. I was a little demoralized to realize that from when I was told they started to when we passed each other was an hour and a half. I assumed that meant another 1.5 hours until I was at the other side, which meant the first lap was going to take me about 15 hours. I'd planned for around 12-13. Stupid wind.

    When I hit the shore in Newport, I did NOT want to turn around. Again, I credit my crew: It wasn't an option, and we didn't talk about it. I cleared the water for about 15 seconds and then sat back on the boat ramp. It was COLD. There was a border agent there to check us in, and some Canadian lady who heard about the race and wanted to see me. She couldn't believe I was going to turn around and swim back. While all that was going on, Ryan knew the drill- he fed me my recovery mix and tossed me a bag of baby carrots. He put some extra lanolin on a sock (???) and tossed that to me as well. I chugged my drink, chipmunked as many carrots into my mouth as I could, and applied some gunk to my armpits and lats. At that point, I was shivering pretty hard, so I gave the "we better start swimming again ASAP" warning. And off we went.

    The rest of the night was hard. My crew managed to find me warm water (we'd had a few thermoses on the boat, but after 16 hours, they were cold) for my feeds. I couldn't see them at all, but each time I'd stop, I had Bill's very kind and calm voice encouraging me and making sure I was ok. We started counting down until sunrise. One feed at a time.

    Finally, after the longest night of my life, the sun came up. It didn't have the warmth that the California sun during Tahoe had had, but at least I could see again. And it was a beautiful sunrise. It was around this time that I found out that the two boys had dropped out, but that Bethany was swimming strong. During the rest of the day, knowing Bethany was out there and swimming motivated and propelled me forward. Had she dropped out or not been there, I may have called it quits, too. But, we kept on swimming. Bethany and her crew, me and mine.
    The day went on forever. The wind came back in full force, but at least this time it was a tailwind. I knew I was swimming really slow, but was counting on the wind to push me. I kept trying to find reasons to quit, but I couldn't settle on something good enough: My crew and the support boats kept finding me hot water. I was still cold, but not unbearable. My shoulders were tired, but didn't hurt. We were moving forward. So, we kept swimming.

    A few times, the Magog police came and followed along. Super fun. We started to go by landmarks I could remember from the previous day, which was encouraging. With around 10 miles to go, Bill was amazing at giving me the countdown to how far we had left. Normally, I don't like that info, but I needed to know. Once I hit the 10 mile mark, I knew nothing would stop me. I can always swim 10 miles, right? It started to sprinkle. It started to get dark again. I started to get cold again. But, I just kept going, one warm feed at a time.

    And then we were there! I could see buildings. I could see shore. I could see two large orange buoys, leading me in. I could see land below me. I could stand up. And I walked out of the water. DONE. Elaine was waiting with a really lovely sleeping bag. Ryan was there to hug me. Actually, there were a LOT of people there cheering. It was an amazing finish to a long, hard slog of a swim

    I curse Phil for putting me up to the whole thing, but I'm glad he did. And I love Bill and Ryan for being there every painful, slow stroke of the way. The community around this swim was amazing and supportive. So many strangers were out on the water that day to help me and Bethany get across safely. The area of northern Vermont is beautiful. The lake was beautiful. Overall, the experience was amazing, and I am so grateful for Phil putting me up to it. I’m also incredibly humbled by the dedication of my crew. Even though Ryan loves me, there are no rules that says he has to sit on a boat for 30 hours. I’m blessed that he’s willing to do so. And let me talk about Bill Shipp. What an amazing human he is. I could feel his kindness and strength and enthusiasm the entire swim. Without those two men, there is no possible way I could have swum as long as I had. They were perfect and amazing- and I am eternally grateful for them both. Team effort all the way!

    Thanks for reading! And go swim with Phil sometime. I know we’ll be back!
  • emkhowleyemkhowley Boston, MACharter Member
    I'd like to underscore this:
    I’m also incredibly humbled by the dedication of my crew. Even though Ryan loves me, there are no rules that says he has to sit on a boat for 30 hours. I’m blessed that he’s willing to do so. And let me talk about Bill Shipp. What an amazing human he is. I could feel his kindness and strength and enthusiasm the entire swim.

    You guys were absolutely AMAZING. Mad props to the guys in the tin can boat for 30+ hours. Epic in every sense of the word.

    Stop me if you've heard this one...
    A grasshopper walks into a bar...

  • mjstaplesmjstaples Atlanta, GA, USSenior Member
    @ssthomas great write-ups. I would love to do this swim one day. Congrats!!
  • FilFil Derby, VTCharter Member
    A great and inspiring group of Swimmer Scouts. A totally committed crew of support out on the lake and along the way. No words can describe the joy when Bethany Bosch and Sarah Thomas stuck their landings after staring down some "feisty" and totally unpredicted conditions. Memphre threw what she had straight at them and they ate her for lunch.

    Bob and Humphrey had valiant swims in the face of trying conditions. Bob broke a rib and Humphrey tore some muscles. But watching them take on these conditions was inspiring as well. Some totally fearless swimming all around.
  • Totally awesome. Sorry I wasn't there for the finale (I was the boat that went back to Newport) but I am thrilled to have been a part of it. I have had 2 phone calls from Barbara wanting to know if there were any glimmers of Memphre. So if there were please contact her.
  • JBirrrdJBirrrd MarylandSenior Member
    edited September 2013
    Sarah, That was an amazing and inspirational account of how you overcame hardship and persevered to accomplish what no one else has dared to swim before. Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story. Your kind words about the other swimmers, Phil and your support crew made me smile. I have been kind of obsessed with another epic swim lately and needed a true feel good story to remind me why I love this sport.
  • FilFil Derby, VTCharter Member
    BTW - Who said Bill Shipp is a human?
  • Woem --- great swims - double Memphre! Single Memphre! Congratulations all
  • I thought of this thread while in the lake this morning with a cranky back, looking for a reason to quit. Finding none, I continued on.
    Congratulations to all involved in this effort!
  • Sarah, thanks for your kind words but it was you that inspired Ryan and me to carry on. You encountered some crazy conditions and never flinched once. Awesome job! As for Phil saying I may not be human I say, "Ackphtpls Phil setanhyoem!" Congrats to Bethany as well and to Bob and Humphrey on their valliant efforts!
  • Congratulations to Sarah and Bethany for their double and single crossings respectively and to Bob for a valiant effort despite what I understand to be a broken rib! A hearty thank you to all involved in organizing this was an incredible experience for me and I learned a lot. Memphremagog bested me this time but I intend to return soon with stronger I need to spend some time on the other threads and gather ideas for how to step up my game...
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    Here is Bethany's account of her Search. I love it!
  • FilFil Derby, VTCharter Member
    I loved to hear that Bethany and Sarah were both singing during this swim. And the communication to each other through their crews via radios was quite wonderful. When that started, I knew both of them would make it.
  • FilFil Derby, VTCharter Member
    A child of Memphremagog grows up:

    Isn't this what it's all about?

  • FilFil Derby, VTCharter Member
    This in from Bill Shipp:

    Bethany, I loved reading your account of swimming with Sarah. I must admit that as I have read the various write ups you and Sarah have produced i got a little emotional each time. You both write beautifully and from the heart.
    This year's expedition was my first time crewing for someone on a marathon distance. How fortunate I was to get assigned to Sarah. After the swim, as I was leaving town, Phil said it was the best decision he had made. For my part, I couldn't agree more!
    I too had never met Sarah. Except for a couple of brief conversations we were left to figure the dance of crew and swimmer out on the water. No dress rehearsal. Thank God Ryan was there. Sarah, I don't know if he's told you how much I was pumping him for information. I asked how you like to interact during feeds. Does she like to talk? (not much). How does she do with the standard questions about peeing and alertness testing (doesn't like it). How does her stroke look to you? Her pace is down from what she told me (she looks ok). With his guidance I was able to devise a plan. I would get Sarah her feeds as efficiently as possible and ask her direct questions. How's the cold? Did you pee? Do you want ibuprofen? Do you want warm feed? Not a lot of chit chat. Always followed by a "you look strong, stroke count looks steady. Keep it up."
    But there came a point in the night when Sarah said she was cold. I knew this was no bullshit. We did not talk about it much, but Ryan said if she says she's cold she means it. So I watched even more closely. We switched to warm feed and I snuck some ibuprofen in, but she called me out on it immediately. "Did you put ibuprofen in?". A little afraid to admit it I said yes. Sarah simply said, "Good, I think it was time".
    As dawn broke we all got a little emotional lift and I could see Sarah better. I could tell she was struggling but I knew she was still strong. Sarah, I don't know if you noticed but there was a long stretch where I intentionally kept eye contact with you for every stroke. I wanted you to know I was with you and me and Ryan had your back. At one point I radioed Boat 7 (our support boat) and asked them to pull along the other side of Sarah and give her some cheering at next feed. I was worried Sarah might not like this type of bravado but I thought she needed a boost.
    Then we ran out of warm water. I radioed to Phil and he marshaled all the assets on the lake to get us more warm water. It was amazing. I've told Phil he has a certain aura of barely controlled chaos at times with these swims but I can tell you when the chips are down out on that lake he is like friggin General Patton.
    Somewhere in the midst of the trip back, shortly after dawn, an amazing thing happened. Sarah stopped for a feed. I gave her the bottle and asked how she felt. She gave me a nod but all she said was, "How's Bethany". I said she's still in and doing well. After Sarah resumed swimming I radioed, "Boat 3 to Boat 5, Sarah swimming strong just fed, only thing Sarah said is how is Bethany doing." At that moment I was glad my back was to Ryan because my voice was actually cracking a bit and I was choking up. It was a beautiful moment for me to be part of this connection between two swimmers giving it their all.
    Thus began the interchange back and forth across the miles on that wonderful lake. "Boat 2 to Boat 3, Bethany is fine. Sends her regards to Sarah." And so it went. As we heard the radio report that Bethany was closing in on the finish, I radioed, "Sarah and Boat 3 send their congratulations to Bethany!" When we told Sarah Bethany had finished she said, "Good, good." I noticed her stroke got stronger after that.
    As I sit here on a rainy, melancholy day in Maryland I am so thankful that I came back this year and experienced Memphre from the vantage point of the support team. When Liz Fry learned I was crewing for Sarah on her double she said, "You need to do this." I didn't really know what she meant at the time, but now I do. Crewing with Ryan for Sarah was a great learning experience for me. Sharing the lake with both of you on your mighty adventures has made me a better swimmer. I am proud to know you both.

  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member
    I've been reading all of these posts and getting a little misty each time I read about @ssthomas's and Bethany's connections during their swim. But damn Shipp, that one made me cry. Thanks for sharing all of these @fil.
  • ssthomasssthomas DenverCharter Mem​ber
    I'm staring to be afraid to open my email... either something funny that gets me in trouble for laughing at work, or things that make me cry. I'm telling you folks, there is something magical about Memphre's waters. Go swim across that lake and you'll know what I mean!
  • FilFil Derby, VTCharter Member
    We're deep into organizing next year's Search. We have 4 slots filled, with 6 more available. A number of folks have expressed interest but haven't decided. If any of you are interested in joining us, please let me know. This is an expedition and, I have to say, I love the great good spirit of the many who have swum this event or who have supported those who have.

    At the Swimmers Dinner this year, Billy Conner joined us. He was the very first person to swim the 25 mile length of Lake Memphremagog (In the 1950's). He was invited by Barbara Malloy, Vermont's 1st Lady Dracontologist. He talked about his encounter with Memphre which is reported on the Kingdom Swim website:

    Let me know if any of you want to join us. Fair warning: Don't wait too long. Spots are filling fast.

  • FilFil Derby, VTCharter Member

    Just 8 days out from In Search of Memphre V. This year's expeditionary force consists of Mo Seigel, Amanda Hunt and Katie Benoit. Can't hardly wait to be under way.

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