Kim Bierwert of Smith College Swimming & Diving described the five successful English Channel swimmers from Smith College, a highly selective, independent women’s liberal arts college in Massachusetts.

“Margaret Broenniman, Class of 1985, did a 10 hour 37 minute crossing in 1984. Maura Fitzpatrick, another alumnus of the Class of 1985, did a 11 hour 15 minute swim also in 1984. Maureen Travers, who received her masters degree in Exercise Science and Sport Studies in 1991, finished her English Channel crossing in 12 hours and 41 minutes in 1990 12 hrs 41 minutes. Mackenzie Bradley, Class of 2013, did a 13 hour 5 minute crossing in 2011. Emma Reim, Class of 2013, did a 14 hour 15 minute swim in 2011.

Margaret, Maura, Mackenzie and Emma were swimmers on the Smith College Swimming & Diving, a spirited group with great camaraderie, while Maureen was working on her degree in the Masters of Science in Exercise & Sports Studies graduate program during the time they trained and achieved their English Channel goals. Maura and Margaret both the spent the summer of 1984 training at Smith College as did Mackenzie and Emma in 2011.”

Coach Bierwert uses the story of English Channel swimming as a inspirational moment in his coaching. “I really think it shows what you can do with the right goal, dedication, commitment and effort. We have had a decent history of distance swimmer on the college team, but I am not sure that is the link. It clearly takes a special person to undertake the Channel. It also takes a great blend of preparation, effort and, to some degree, luck to have a successful swim. These last two swims this summer were by the fastest swimmers I have had do it, but their times were the slowest due to tough weather conditions. We moved up our swim date and began the swim around noon versus in the early early am to try to take advantage of the “best” weather we could get, but it was still difficult weather conditions. that meant swimming into the night and finishing in the dark in the early am – not easy mentally. If we had waited another few days for our scheduled dates, I am not sure we even have had the opportunity to swim, or swim and be successful.”

The five swimmers are following in the wake of another alumnae, Eleanor Studley Hurd who was the first female swimmer who crossed the Hellespont for which she received an International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame Certificate of Merit in 2011.

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