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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A New Hero- Nora Stanton Blatch

Nora Stanton Blatch I think I have a new "hero." This lady is Nora Stanton Blatch, the granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton who was one of the founders of the woman's rights movement in the United States. She lived from 1883-1971, and the picture was taken in 1921. (Oddly enough, my grandmother was born in 1882 and died in 1973.)

It turns out that Nora seems to have had plenty of her grandmother's spunk. For one thing, she was the first woman to earn a degree in Civil Engineering. She graduated from Cornell University in 1905, and worked her entire life as an engineer, mostly in the steel industry. She also continued the family tradition of fighting for the vote for women.

However, the reason that I came across her name is because she was also the first woman to swim across Cayuga Lake in New York, in 1904. Here's the connection. Since completing my big North Country Trail quest, people have been asking me what I want to do next. For sure, I want to finish hiking the Buckeye and Finger Lakes Trails (both of them have miles that aren't NCT). But I've been thinking about another idea.

When I was a child, it was a local badge of athleticism and stamina to swim across Cayuga Lake. I never had a chance to do it, back then.

But I've now walked 4400 miles on the longest hiking trail in the US. I've ridden sea to sea on a bicycle. This is beginning to sound like some sort of lifetime triathlon; it only needs a swimming component. So... my mind wanders back to that old dream.

There are lots of places to swim across Cayuga Lake. As it turns out there's an annual swim at the south end, just 1.25 miles. Hundreds of women participate in that each year to raise money for the local hospice. But I want my swim to be longer; for most of its length the lake is two or more miles wide. Where Nora swam it, the width was 2.25 miles. I found a newspaper article that gives the approximate location. It's quite a bit north of where I lived, but there is some appeal to using her same route.

In any case, I've made up my mind that next summer I'll be working up to a swim of that length and crossing Cayuga Lake. I have to arrange for a boat to accompany me... one doesn't swim across a large body of water without an escort. There are too many power boats and too many ways to get in trouble.

Thus, my interest in completing the 1.25-mile swim this Saturday. I swam at least a full mile both yesterday and today. That distance is estimated, but I think it's pretty close. I'll swim it again tomorrow, and then take Friday off.

Om is planning to go to the start with me on Saturday, so I hope he'll take some pictures. The swim is not a race. It's to raise money for the Hamlin Lake Preservation Society. I have no interest in racing- I'm sure there will be many strong young swimmers entered. I just hope I don't come in dead last.


Emma Springfield said...

Go, Sharkbytes!

Unknown said...

Please for Christ sake help this poor boy from Haiti

Reena said...

My goodness! How remarkable will that be! Hats off to you!
You go girl!

vanilla said...

Aha! No interest in racing; and yet pride prohibits last-place finish. Hmmm.
You do have an impressive walking-biking record!

betchai said...

go Sharkbytes, you are living my dream, I can never accomplish what you had, but you have inspired me so much I commit to be fit so I can enjoy life continuously as you do.

Sharkbytes said...

Thanks, Emma!

Majid- Actually, I do sometimes give towards aid for Haiti- I have a soft spot in my heart for the country.

missing moments- I think there are going to be a whole bunch of people swimming- I'll be sure to report

vanilla- I'm busted! Yes, that's my situation exactly. I don't have much practice at coming in last.

betchai- I'm just persistent, and yes, do try to stay fit. Those two things will take you far. Your hiking is pretty inspiring too.

RNSANE said...

Well, Joan, I would love to see you do the Lake Cayuga swim done by Nora! She sounds like she was quite a terrific lady and so are you!

Sharkbytes said...

Carmen- ha! Put me on your calendar for next year- late August or early Sept. I'll set a date sometime this winter. It would be a hoot if I showed up with a whole fan club.

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