Ray Gandy swims 46 miles in Lake Memphremagog
A freak thunderstorm forced forum member
from the water, 4 miles short of an unprecedented 50-mile double-crossing of Lake Memphremagog in Vermont. Here's a report from Phil White (
), who directs the Kingdom Swim in the same lake.
“It’s right over you!” Those were the words from the Newport City Police Dispatcher, when we called in to see how far away the thunderstorm was. The violent, spot storm that hit us immediately, without warning, with gale force winds and lightning just less than 4 miles from Newport’s Gateway Center put an end to Ray Gandy’s historic attempt to be the first person to complete a 50 mile international swim, double crossing Lake Memphremagog, from Newport to Magog and back. Gandy, a 50 year old marathon swimmer from Coventry, RI, left Newport’s Gateway Center at 8:15 am on Saturday, July 14 th and completed the first crossing of 25 miles, from Newport to Magog in 13 hours. He spent 8 minutes on the beach visiting with supporters, before re-entering the water and heading south.
The night was still and the conditions seemed favorable. However, Ray struggled during the night and throughout the morning and his pace slowed. With the rising sun, came southerly headwinds that slowed him down still further. But he refused to quit. A tough gut if we’ve ever seen one. Brutally determined. Repeatedly raising his fist in the face of the seeming reality of the moment. But then, after about 27 hours in the water, he broke through the wall and by the time he crossed the border, he was swimming strong and at the same pace he had maintained during the first 25 miles of the swim. He crossed the border at 2:40 pm on Sunday, July 15th to the tooting of horns from his support crew and other supporters who came out to cheer him on. He had gotten just over 1 mile south of the border, with less than 4 miles to go, and completion seeming assured, when we heard the rumble of thunder. Then the spot storm hit with a vengeance. Lightning struck all around us and the winds picked up with intense fury. Ray was forced to pull and we raced for the protection of shore and then south into town. Within minutes the storm was done, as if it never happened, and Ray was being checked out and attended to by the EMTs of the Newport Ambulance Services. US border officials were personally there to process our re-entry. Ray’s extraordinary swim was history: The longest continuous swim on Lake Memphremagog, ever. Just over 46 miles and 31:05 hours in the water.
The Canadian and US Border Officials were great to work with during the preparations and throughout the swim. They couldn’t have been more supportive of this international swim. And, you just gotta love Ray’s specially made swim suit, half US and half Canadian flags. Bob Kerr and Eric Bassett of Newport Marine Services provided the pontoon boat for Ray’s crew and the support necessary for this extraordinary expedition. The swim was also supported by Indoor Recreation Orleans County (IROC) and the Northeast Kingdom Open Water Swimming Association.
In the process, Ray’s Swim raised just over $6,000 for IROC and its Healthy Changes Initiative, a groundbreaking and highly successful discounted membership and exercise program for people suffering from chronic conditions.
Ray’s swim has also raised awareness of the coming of age of world class open water swimming in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. IROC and NEKOWSA now host 5 sanctioned swims, Son of a Swim,
Kingdom Swim, Seymour Swim, Willoughby Swim, and the 25 mile international swim In Search of Memphre. This year’s Kingdom Swim saw 240 swimmers, ages 7 to 70, travelling from 21 different states and two Canadian provinces to swim one of six open water courses ranging from 10 miles to 100 yards. Kingdom Swim has been selected to host next year’s USMS 9+ mile national championship. The Daily News of Open Water Swimming has selected Lake Memphremagog and Lake Willoughby as two of the 50 great open water swimming venues in all of the Americas.
For some photos of Ray's Swim
I swam against Ray in college, usually quite a bit behind him. He was a great swimmer and a great team leader back then. Great job Ray!
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