Featured, Local News

16-year-old to swim English Channel

The Rowena

Vera Rivard, 16, of Derby, Vermont and Springfield, New Hampshire, will attempt an English Channel swim this week. Rivard is an Upper Valley Aquatic Club (UVAC) swim team member, she was the Vermont Sport’s Magazine Athlete of the Year 2019, and she is an open water swimming phenom.

She arrived in Dover, England Aug. 8 and has been quarantining there for two weeks before she attempts the swim in the date window of Monday, Aug. 24-Saturday, Aug. 29.

Vera Rivard started swimming with UVAC more than 10 years ago and has dreamed of swimming the English Channel her whole life. Rivard has always worked hard to accept all available swim challenges, most recently circumnavigating Manhattan Island in the 20 Bridges Around Manhattan Island this July.

Vera Rivard is happiest in the water and said she is excited to try this newest challenge of the English Channel to test her limits. The captain overseeing her boat decides when or if they will depart. Her Captain is Peter Reed on the boat, the Rowena. Rivard will only get a few hours’ notice before her swim will begin, and weather can sometimes interfere with a swimmer’s success. Her family will be posting updates on Facebook and Instagram and interested readers can track her swim at channelswimmingassociation.com/pilots/rowena.

In preparation for the English Channel attempt, Rivard traveled attended Cork Distance Week in Ireland.

“I am constantly being asked why I do this? ‘Why are you trying this when you are so young? Why swim so far, or why swim in such cold water?’ I only have one answer. Because I love it! I feel it is what I am meant to do. I feel completely ‘me’ when I am in the open water,” she said. “My mom is always saying when something gets hard or we have to struggle with something, that we are ‘building character.’ I dare say, I have been working on being very full of ‘character.’ I have pushed myself in ways I had no idea I could and have had success. I am so lucky,” Rivard added.

Rivard has raised nearly $5,000 from sponsors and donors but the trip will cost much closer to $15,000 for travel, training, room and board, and the boat rental.

Vera hopes to swim the Open Water Triple Crown in the next two years which include: 20 Bridges Around Manhattan Island (completed July 2020), English Channel (August 2020), and the Catalina Island Channel, California.

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