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From left, swimmers Mark Longley, Rose de Mars, John Eisner, Carol Zink, Jennifer Marts, Rick Van de Poll, Wendy Van de Poll, and Lisa Davy reached the shore of the Sandwich Town Beach at about noon on Friday after swimming a seven-mile relay across Squam Lake for the 8th annual event The Swim. (LARISSA MULKERN PHOTO)

The Swim

The Swim raises money for Squam Lake loon research


SANDWICH — "Let's do it again!" yelled a swimmer from the eight-member relay team as they reached the Sandwich Town Beach on Friday.

The relay team completed a seven-mile swim across Squam Lake from the Squam Channel in Holderness to the Sandwich Town Beach in about six hours during this eighth annual event known simply as "The Swim." Swimmers were blessed with decent weather after an early morning rainstorm had passed.

The Swim is an annual fundraiser to benefit the Loon Preservation Committee's Squam Lake Loon Initiative, an ongoing effort to increase monitoring, research, management and outreach to change the fortunes of Squam's loons. Senior Biologist/Executive Director Harry Vogel of the Moultonborough-based Loon Preservation Committee said since its inception, the swim has raised more than $300,000.

"This year, we'll be topping $100,000," said Vogel.

Most members of this year's swim team are veterans of the event. Swimmer Lisa Davy was a newbie.

"I've been wanting to do this for four years," she said after she reached the beach. "It was really fun, an awesome experience."

Davy swims nearly every day, so she didn't require much special training. Swimmers would swim a mile or two, take a break then return to the water for another mile swim — except for the last mile, which they all swam together.

Vogel said the event raises awareness about the plight of the loons and how pollutants such as those found in fertilizers or household cleaners leach into the lake and affect the loon population. He said the funds raised this year will help extend the field testing season on the lake. Researchers will test eggs from failed nests for contaminants; each test costs $2,600.

"We have seen a high level of contaminants in this lake," said Vogel.

The Swim enables ongoing research, he said.

"And the great thing about this, it's not just the money we raise — it's also the awareness we raise through this event — by people talking to other people about The Swim, it gets the word out that there's an issue on Squam," Vogel said.

The 2013 Swim Team included the event's founder, Wendy Van de Poll, her husband, Rick Van de Poll, Lisa Davy, Rose de Mars, John Eisner, Carol Zink, Jennifer Marts, and Mark Longley. A boat from Rockywold Deephaven Camps and a crew of spotters on kayaks included: Elle Hotchkiss, Gloria Hoag, Lauren Longley, Jeff Marts, Dick de Sede, Sue Hale-de Sede and Anne Lloyd.

For more information on the Squam Lake Loon Initiative or to make a donation, visit www.loon.org/squam-lake-study.php or call the Loon Preservation Committee at 476-5666.

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