High clouds overhead, and a northerly wind. This has the makings of a spirited swim.
We load Django, with all our gear, one big bin chocked full of feeds, a dry bag of warm clothes, and some extra company. Phil White,is my captain and observer, Cynthia Needham,is crew captain, and then there is Skinner! Skinner, you might ask? Yes, Uriah Skinner,the half size skeleton, we got for grins, to join us, for our recent Skinner Island, 2 way crossing. He has become quite a part of the team, since his rescue from smugglers cave, on Skinner Island.
Time to “walk the boat ramp”, I think,as I gaze down the lake. I can just make out Ile Ronde,a small, speck in the distance, 8. 2 miles away,and just waiting to be conquered. ” I’m coming for you round island”, I firmly, declare.
The boat ramp is slick, I slither into the water, game on.
Some days a swim welcomes you with open arms, it reaches out to you, with fair weather, and calm waters, it sends you a, ” this is your day vibe”. Today, is not one of those days. Today, Lake Memphremagog, is ornery.
Instantly my heart rate accelerates,I drive my head down low, and pull with long, strong strokes.” Every stroke draws me closer”, I think.
” Listen here, you!” I imagine, the Lake baiting me. ” You’ve been slipping that kiwi frame through my waters, all month, and I’ve played nice. Sure, I’ve given you some wind,rain, and cloudy skies to keep you honest, but this, a circumnavigation of Ile Ronde, now, now your pushing it!” This is the vibe this old Lake is giving me, she’s going to do her best to throw me off the horse, and I’m ready to fight back!
And with that Ole Memphremagog blows from the North, the wind steadily builds. I drive my head down even lower. The more she gusts, the harder I fight. Swells begin to roll down her waters, I breathe hard.
The light house comes, and goes, the vulture like birds look on.
Next up the border, we are in Canadian waters, I treat myself to a look at the island, it is getting closer. The closer it gets, the stronger I swim.
I look at the team, Phil White is calling in our pre approved entry into the Canadian custom officials, this makes it possible to swim continuously without having to go the customs station mid swim, I am grateful for this! Cynthia Needham is fixing my next feed, and then there is Skinner, sitting upright in the back of the boat. I fix my gaze on him, for what feels like a very long time.
My feeds are fast, I say very little to the crew. A few words like, ” Lovely morning”, ” “Bonjour mon ami”. But something’s brewing. For the past 30 minutes, I have been thinking of nothing else, other than what I have been bursting to tell, Phil and Cynthia. I grin, my widest grin, as I think of it. Finally feed time is here, I slide alongside the boat, reach for my feed and say, ” Could you guys do something about Skinner, he looks terrified, he may be thinking we are taking him back to smugglers cave, on Skinner Island”, I spit out the words with a roar of laughter, and then I’m off again. I just love adventure!
(If you don’t know about Skinner’s history, ready Skinner Island blog!)
The wind continues to gust, I know the island is close. Suddenly, Ile Ronde, looms in front of me. She is bigger than I anticipated, tall in stature, along with very tall trees. I make my approach and begin to swim clockwise around this proud island.
As, I swim around Ile Ronde, I reflect on the battle to get here. “Lake Memphremagog made me earn it today”, I think, and then I smile, my very biggest of smiles, for I have made it around the island and am looking forward to a strong northerly tail wind the whole way home. Head down, and I accelerate down the lake.
In no time at all we are back at the border, WAHOO, I love border crossings! Phil and Cynthia fly the New Zealand flag as I cross, I can see the slash in the trees marking the border, and the border buoys in the water.
I continue down the lake, the sailboats are out in full force, one circles us, ” Is that Charlotte”, a yell comes from the sailboat. They follow us for a while, and as we near the city dock they peel off.The wind has eased, the gusts have dropped, lake Memphremagog has succumbed.
” Last feed”, says Cynthia, I smile and swim on. I know I am close, I watch the familiar landmarks, and enjoy the ride. Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I see Cynthia bouncing up and down, it is clear she wants me to sprint. ” Either it’s a boat, or I am close to an hour mark”. I think, as I drive my head down, and pull hard. My breath is heavy and loud, I suck in oxygen, and forcefully exhale. I am 500 meters away, my shoulders burn, I keep sprinting.400 meters, 300 meters, 200 meters, the countdown is on. The last 100 meters is here, I don’t let up. The ramp is before me,”Oh no,slippery”, I remember the slide down the ramp this morning.I don’t let up, I swim as far as I can, then pop upright and scamper up the ramp, on my tip toes. Success, I clear the water, and turn to face the boat, pumping my fists, and grinning from ear to ear.
My time 7 hours, 59 minutes and 4 seconds. Thanks to Cynthia Needham, a sub 8 hour swim.
Another Border Crossing of course! July 30th Kingdom Swim Border Buster!