Building Character and Fortitude with Bob Fernald

Oct 04, 2017

October 1, 2017 (Exeter, NH) - Over 100 swimmers, half of whom were youth, lined up at the shores of Kingston Lake, snapping on their goggles to brave the cold at the Southern District YMCA’s first annual Open Water Swim. Triple Crown swimmer, Bob Fernald, and Solo Aquatics co-sponsored the event with Southern District YMCA; proceeds benefit an Aquatic Center for their facility, the Exeter Area YMCA.

Harrison Hollingsworth, head coach of Solo-Exeter, praised the event, “The kids swam incredibly fast! It was a great opportunity for our swimmers from Exeter and Haverhill to try open water swimming.” Swimmers ranged in age from 10-64; swimmers also ranged from first-time open water swimmers to seasoned competitors! The event offered four distances, 400-yards, ½ mile, 1 mile, and 2 miles, with team and single-competitor options. 

First Place Individual Swimmers:

400-yard - Cooper Granger, age 10, with a time of 8:42

½-mile - Maura Gawrys, age 16, with a time of 13:18.19

1-mile - Samantha Grove, age 16, with a time of 25:01.9

2-mile - Griffin Deschenes, age 15, with a time of 43:15.2

Bob Fernald said, “I see swimming as the first chance boys and girls get to compete together at young ages; I think this provides the basis for life skills that children will carry throughout their lives—whether they know it or not.” He continued, “not only was this a great event to showcase talent, it was a great way for the community to come together to help the Exeter Area YMCA raise money for a much-needed aquatic center!"

The event was a huge success thanks to all of the athletes, volunteers, and sponsors. Orgain, Waste Management, Your Neighborhood Realtor LLC, Olofson Landworks, Exeter Cycles, SOLO Aquatics, Open H2O Solutions, Purity Organic, Summer Sessions, Aroma Joe’s, and Dunkin Donuts made this event possible through their gifts of sponsorship—and caffeination!

Solo Aquatics Head Coach, Meghan Feran, said, “There was an overwhelming number of impressive swims by these athletes! Thank you to Portsmouth Swim Team, Six03 and Great Bay Masters for sending so many swimmers!”

Southern District YMCA’s next big event is the Thanks-For-Giving 5K & 10K, held on Thanksgiving Day, November 23, 2017 at 8:30am at Exeter Area YMCA. For more information, contact Jan Merrow at 603 319 5937.

Solo-Exeter is a non-profit USA swim team and is currently accepting new members. Those interested in learning more should go to or email

Southern District YMCA is a cause-driven organization that is for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.