Alyssa Langlais - Isles of Shoals
White Island to Wallis Sands Beach
10.75 km (6.7 miles)
4 hours, 38 minutes on 22 August 2020
Observed and documented by Cheryl Coletti-Lawson
First documented unassisted swim
- Name: Alyssa Langlais
- Gender: female
- Age on swim date: 44
- Nationality: United States
- Resides: Merrimac, Massachusetts
- Bob Fernald - navigation, coach, crew
- Peter Witham - pilot, crew
- Andrea Hrynchuk - kayaker, crew
- Thomas Joyce - crew
- Cheryl Coletti-Lawson - observer
Escort Vessel: Blue Moon (Dover Point)
- Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
- Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
- Equipment used: swimsuit (Sporti thin strap one-piece), Zoggs goggles, latex swim cap, earplugs, Sharkbanz ankle strap
- Body of Water: Atlantic Ocean
- Route Type: one-way
- Start Location: White Island boat landing (42.967784, -70.624651)
- Finish Location: Wallis Sands State Beach, Rye, New Hampshire (43.027037, -70.727169)
- Minimum Route Distance: 10.75 km (6.7 miles) (map)
Known History of Isle of Shoals Swims to the NH/ME Seacoast
Prepared by: Bob Fernald
Information Effective date: 9/8/20
The Isles of Shoals are a group of small islands and tidal ledges situated approximately 6.5 miles (~10.5 km) off the east coast of the United States, straddling the border of the states of Maine and New Hampshire. Islands and Ledges in Maine: Appledore, Smuttynose, Duck, and Cedar Islands, Islands in NH: Lunging, Star, and White Islands.
They have been occupied for more than 400 years, first by fishing communities and more recently as the site of private homes, a large seasonal hotel and a marine research facility.
The attached table shows the known swims that have been recorded by different means since 2008. Recorded swims are defined as swims that happened and were memorialized by press articles, and swimmer/boat captain/crew/community witness. The individuals in this table are known regional swimmers, and there is no reason to doubt the claims of swimming to, or from the Isle of Shoals.
Some interview research was conducted with Esther Kennedy, a Portsmouth, NH lifelong resident, and someone who spent time working at the UNH research facilities, and on the islands through her entire life. She was also a swimmer/scuba diver in her day. When asked about any known swims, her response was swift, “…oh yeah, dozens…” Asked, how many dozen? Answer: “…probably over 50 swimmers in the 70s, and early 80s….” Esther recalls that employees, had been known to make the swim, and noted a Portsmouth High School group of “kids” that completed the swim. Further details, names, dates are not available.
Swim starts, and finishes, as well as crossing were determined, and recorded by the swimmer, and or crew. The only two times in the table that are documented with a GPS watch/Tracker data back up are Patrick Hurley and Alyssa Langlais. Most swims started, or stopped at the Gosport Harbor area (Bell RW IS), at Star Island. This is a working harbor for tourism, and boating. In order to avoid the Harbor, recent swims, and future swims are recommended to start from the White Island. There is a protected rocky boat landing on the south eastern side of the island.
While there are many starting and ending locations on the mainland, a standard route has been determined (by the local open water swim community) to be from White Island to Wallis Sands Beach, approximately 6.6 miles.
On August 22, 2020, Alyssa Langlais became the first non-wetsuit female swimmer to swim from White Island to Wallis Sand Beach. Her swim was observed by Cheryl Colletti-Lawson using the MSF documentation standards.
Click to enlarge
- Start: 22 August 2020, 07:25:14 (Eastern Daylight, UTC-4).
- Finish: 22 August 2020, 12:03:25
- Elapsed: 4 hours, 38 minutes, 9 seconds.
Summary of Conditions
|Water Temp (F)||63||65.3|
|Air Temp (F)||67.8||78.8|
Trackpoint frequency: 15 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).
Nutrition: Every 30 minutes, mix of Infinit protein/electrolyte drink; Gu mocha/caffeine packets; Perfect brand bars and Luna brand bars.
by Alyssa Langlais
What inspired you to do this swim?
This is a swim that Bob Fernald first mentioned to me in 2019, but that year I already had several events planned and could not fit it in. This year, with the cancelation of my planned events (Boston Light and Kingdom Swim Border Buster), I was looking for a swim that would provide some additional challenges from the marathon distance swims I have completed (SWAM and Bermuda, Round the Sound), while still being close to home. Bob Fernald has been kind enough to help me through the process of selecting a course and swim day/time based on the tides and other conditions. We selected White Island for the swim start partly to avoid any activity in Gosport Harbor (Gosport is a working harbor) and because it is a starting location unique to my swim.
Please describe how you planned for the swim.
I have been swimming exclusively, having previously been involved in triathlon, since 2018. I have completed many 1 mile to 1.5 mile events such as: Sharkfest - Boston, Newport, and Alcatraz, Peaks to Portland, the Nubble Challenge, and the Islesboro Crossing. In 2019 I swam my first two 10K events: Swim with a Mission and Rounds the Sounds, Bermuda. This season, I have been swimming in the lakes since early April, as I lost access to the YMCA, where I participate in Masters swimming, in early March. I have been swimming locally at North Hampton State Beach, Jenness State Beach, and Wallis Sands State Beach since mid June with other swimmers and triathletes and building my experience with ocean swimming. Recently I have been in the ocean about 4 days per week, with many swim sessions from 1.5 to 2 hours with local swim groups. I have benefitted greatly from the informal coaching of Bob Fernald. I also have consulted with Cheryl Coletti-Lawson regarding her experience swimming at the Shoals last September for a 3.5 hour practice swim. I was very confident in my crew as the pilot was very familiar with the area as is Bob Fernald. Andrea Hrynchuk is a very experienced kayaker, capable of handling any unanticipated conditions that may have occurred. Bob, Andrea, and Cheryl are all ocean swimmers.
How did the swim go, generally? Did you face any unanticipated challenges?
The swim went very well despite changes in wind and swell that added to the challenge (and anticipated time). When we first arrived at White Island, we discovered that, at low tide, the boat launch has many exposed rocks. As this was our intended starting point, we went ahead and I climbed out onto the rocks without too much difficulty. Thankfully the rocks were not sharp or barnacle covered! Bob noted that any future swims from White Island may be better started from the opposite side of the Island. The first hour of the swim went very smoothly. I had the wind at my back and calm water at the start and I was very comfortable. About 1.5 hours in I started feeling nauseous, perhaps from the gentle swell (?) For several feeds I was not able to take as much nutrition as I would have liked, due to the nausea. Regardless I was able to keep up my stroke rate and a decent speed. About 2.5 hours in the wind shifted and resulted in a chaotic chop pattern created by the rolling waves and opposing wind direction. It was a challenge to stay in the proper orientation to the kayak, but Andrea did an amazing job keeping me on track. We were being pushed quite bit and I was fighting a bit harder through the chop. Throughout the swim, the water temperature was quite a bit warmer than I had prepared myself for, so I was happy for that. I had anticipated a 3-4 hours swim, so 4:38 was a bit surprising, but I feel like I definitely learn a lot on this swim and am grateful for the experience. As you can see in the videos there was the usual crowd at Wallis sands and I avoided getting too close to curious onlookers. The lifeguard was quite interested in know where the heck I had come from!
Click to enlarge.
Appendix A: Tide Prediction (NOAA)