Thursday, July 1, 2021

Swim Challenge Across Sunapee Harbor

Seventy-seven years young Skip Hause made a swim challenge to Helaina Sacco, Head Swimming, Diving Coach & Aquatics Coordinator for Colby-Sawyer College, New London, NH. Skip has challenged a celebrity swimmer in a fund-raiser for the past seven years; a half-mile open water swim from Sunapee Harbor’s Lake Avenue to Dewey Beach.

 The Handicap

Given Skip has 46 years more practice than Helaina, BUT Helaina has been an elite college swimmer, they agreed Skip needed a handicap of a twelve-minute headstart. This means both swimmers begin at Skip’s dock in Sunapee Harbor, but Helaina must wait a full twelve-minutes before she starts her swim. This twelve-minute time came from using Skip’s best time four-years ago of a 26-minute crossing for the half mile swim.  Helaina, never having raced in open water since her teenage years, and given her estimated time for the half-mile swim, both felt comfortable the twelve-minute lead for Skip may result in them reaching the Dewey Beach shoreline at the same time.

 Oh, one other thing, Helaina must use four different strokes during the swim: the freestyle (crawl), backstroke, butterfly, and breaststroke.

 The stakes for this very sociable race is raising funds for the Colby-Sawyer College swim team.

Here is a 60-second trailer promoting the "Swim Challenge Across Sunapee Harbor."

This is the race condensed in a 20-minute video. 

The Results

Helaina caught up to Skip 22-minutes after his start.  Given Helaina waited for 12-minutes before starting , it took her ten minutes to reach Skip.

Swimmers and Their Coaches

Upon reaching Skip she began a breaststroke, switched to the butterfly, then the backstroke. Just before reaching the beach, Helaina turned and returned to swim alongside Skip, and both finished together. This display of sportsmanship was rather emotional to me. Finishing together demonstrated the respect Helaina and Skip had for each other.  Each, in their own way, were the winners of this friendly challenge.


Check payable to: Colby-Sawyer College
Helaina Sacco, Head Swimming, Diving Coach
Aquatics Coordinator

Colby-Sawyer College
541 Main St,
New London, NH 03257

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