Cheryl Coletti-Lawson - Lake Sunapee

South - North - South

25.7 km (16.0 miles)

12 hours, 40 minutes on 19 August 2020

Observed and documented by Alyssa Langlais

First known swim of this route



  • Name: Cheryl Coletti-Lawson
  • Gender: female
  • Age on swim date: 54
  • Nationality: United States
  • Resides: Henniker, New Hampshire

Support Personnel

Escort Vessel: Four Wins (Pierce Lake, Hillsboro, NH)

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Swim suit (Speedo Pro Endurance), silicone cap, Aquasphere goggles, earplugs, green light on back of cap.

Route Definition

Newbury Town Beach to Georges Mills Beach via west side of Great Island and Little Island + return

  • Body of Water: Lake Sunapee
  • Route Type: two-way
  • Start & Finish Location: Newbury Town Beach (43.322116, -72.038178)
  • Turnaround Location: Georges Mills Beach (north end of lake) (43.430081, -72.067298)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 25.7 km (16.0 miles) (map)


No known previous swims of this route.

Swim Data

  • Start: 19 August 2020, 05:29 (Eastern Daylight, UTC-4).
  • Finish: 19 August 2020, 18:10
  • Elapsed: 12 hours, 40 minutes, 54 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (F) 70 74
Air Temp (F) 58 86
Wind (knots) 0 6.2

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 15 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot


Observer Log

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by Cheryl Coletti-Lawson

As has previously been said, 2020 was the year of “Pivot”. This Double Crossing of Lake Sunapee is the first documented double crossing in that body of water. However, this was not originally on my swim calendar for 2020. I was scheduled to swim Stage 2 of 8 Bridges in July. That event was unfortunately cancelled. I quickly regrouped with my awesome crew and we replaced that swim with the first documented double crossing of Newfound Lake here in NH. That event was intentionally a training swim for what was supposed to be an 18-mile swim in the Kingdom from Newport VT to Skinner Island and back. When we discovered that the border to Canada was still closed to US citizens, we again had to pivot. I am so grateful for an amazing team who was able to come together once again and make this swim happen.

There was more planning for this swim than the Newfound Lake swim. It was suggested to me that we needed to contact Marine Patrol which is part of the Department of Safety (State Police). We completed a permit application. We received the permit and we were set to go. We also needed to notify the local police department of the early morning activity that would be taking place on Newbury Beach. We also needed to get permission to launch our boat from a private boat ramp in Newbury. The owner was more than willing to assist however possible. We were grateful that we could put the boat in a slip in the evening, so we did not need to launch on an unfamiliar ramp in the middle of the night.

The night before the swim, we all met to discuss logistics, feeds, kayak support and other swim related matters. My husband was trying to calculate the anticipated total swim time. He took my swim time from Newfound Lake and made some calculation. By his estimations, the swim would take me approximately 12 hours to complete. I panicked. I pictured a clock on the wall and could not, for the life of me, see myself swimming for that many hours! How was I going to do this? Was it possible? I tried to sleep that night and to no avail, was restless and struggled with nightmares. Good grief!

The swim began as usual, with everyone assuming their roles. Because this was going to be my longest swim to date, I knew that I needed more than one person to kayak. I was elated that my 13-year-old daughter showed an interest in joining the crew. What more could I ask for?! Andrea, my usual kayak support entered the water at the beach. I started the swim jumping off the boat that was piloted by my husband, Scott Lawson, outside the swim ropes and swimming into the beach to start. This was a great idea as I could get comfortable with the water before I started. Bob Fernald, my coach, gave me the countdown and off we went. We planned on swimming south to north to south as the winds primarily blow Northwest on this lake. The wind, however, did not follow the expected pattern on this day. The swim started off wonderfully. The sun rose over the horizon, the winds were manageable, and I was getting into a groove. It always takes me about an hour or so to work through the physical mechanics of my stroke and get into my head for the journey. As we made the first crossing, the winds picked up and were coming out of the North west most of the way. During this swim, I consumed more fuel than on any of my previous marathon swims. I think this was a very good thing. It allowed me to stay energized throughout the swim. Coming into George’s Mills in Sunapee, I looked forward to exiting the water for the turn. It gave me great confidence that ½ of the swim was done. All I needed to do was go back.

The return trip was not as easy. The winds picked up and turned from the South, not getting the push from the North I had hoped for. Furthermore, when I noticed that everyone was donning rain jackets my curiosity was peaked. The skies looked grey. I was assured that it was only rain and that no thunder and lightening was in sight. That made it all okay and wonderful on my end. No big deal swimming in the rain, at least not for me. I am sure that my crew would tell you otherwise. The rain came down so hard for quite some time. At one point, I could barely see the kayak. Too funny I thought. Smiling all the way through it. The winds picked up and I just kept going. When I stopped to fuel, Bob would check in with me asking how I was feeling and giving me suggestions to improve my swim. I was consuming more homemade solids with each feed. As a note to my fueling, I need to figure out how to liquify my solids more so that I can consume through some type of bottle. Having to chew a solid before beginning to swim again, made my fueling time a bit longer.

The swim finished with me walking up onto the beach in Newbury NH with my son waiting for me at the finish. As I stood there, I was simply amazed with how wonderful I felt and the energy I still had. I was grateful that I felt this good. As I swam, the time flew by, I was taken by the wonderful view of the sky, the water, and the tree line all the way. I continue to be grateful that I can swim these distances having begun to swim only 3 years ago. I continue to push myself and challenge myself beyond my wildest expectation. I am simply in love with Open Water swimming and look forward to all the places it will take me. As Dr Suess writes in his book, Oh the Places you will Go……“You have brains in your head, you have feet in your shoes, You can steer yourself in any direction you choose!”


Click to enlarge.



Courtesy of Concord Monitor

Appendix A: New Hampshire Covid considerations

New Hampshire lifted its “stay at home” order on June 29 allowing all businesses to reopen subject to restrictions. The order was replaced with a “safer at home” advisory. While we were not aware of specific guidelines for recreational boating in NH, we were conscious of the recommended limit of 10 people in social gatherings and the operating guidance that applied to a number of businesses, for example the guidance that was given for golf (chosen as an example of outdoor recreation) that “Guests should be prepared to bring their own clubs, and not allow anyone else to handle them. Guests should also be prepared to wear a mask or cloth face covering when around others in settings where social distancing may be difficult.”

Given this background, the swimmer and crew felt comfortable going ahead with the swim while adopting recommended and common sense Covid provisions. All of the swimmer and crew are residents of New Hampshire, known to each other, and had not traveled to higher case rate areas outside the state in the previous month. All confirmed that they had not experienced any Covid-like symptoms, including loss of taste or smell, prior to and at the time of the swim.

Other considerations were:


  • The boat is owned by the swimmer’s family and piloted by the swimmer’s spouse. It was sanitized before use.
  • The boat has an open deck, with no enclosed spaces, maximum 9 passengers, and no head. Crew and pilot were arranged 1 in the bow, 2 in mid boat and one in the stern to maximize social distancing. The bow section is separated from the rest of the boat by a windshield.
  • The boat had hand sanitizer on board for use during the swim.
  • Those on the boat brought masks for use when social distancing was difficult.

Emergency support

A support boat, operated by a friend of the swimmer (Steven Hanson), was available on call during the swim in case of need to minimize likelihood of any need to call on emergency services.


Crew, observer and swimmer each brought their own equipment and food for use during the swim.

Appendix B: Water Event Permit

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