Each January, Vermont Sports Magazine publishes the profiles of 10 Vermont athletes who have made our state proud in the past year. Even with race schedules cut short, travel curtailed and being isolated from training partners, these athletes pushed through the year of Covid-19 and showed how you can stay motivated, stay fit and stay on top of the game. Here’s our annual salute to 10 athletes Vermont should be proud of. See a full list of 2020‘s 10 Athletes of the Year in alphabetical order as well as links to previous years’ honorees.
Vera Rivard’s Long Swims
For the past two years, Vera Rivard has made Vermont Sports’ Athletes of the Year list. And she’s only 16. This year, the phenom who spends much of her summers at home in Derby, Vt. raised the stakes for herself.
On July 5, she joined in the group of swimmers who would plunge into the waters off Manhattan to start the 20 Bridges Race (formerly the Manhattan Island Race). The 28.5-mile swim took her through strong currents and under both the George Washington and Brooklyn Bridges. Vera finished the swim in 7 hours, 53 minutes.
““I didn’t see a lot of trash during my swim but that’s mostly because I’d heard stories before and thought I’m just not gonna look at the river” she told Vermont Sports writer Sophie Hiland. “That was a very, very good tactic.” Of the 16 men and women who did the race this year, Vera finished sixth.
And that was just a warm-up. In early September she splashed into the waves off Dover, England and battled the currents for 14 hours and 10 minutes, before reaching the coast of France. Her route took her on an S curve that covered 33 miles. She is only the second American woman to complete the swim since 2018. During the swim Vera wore the swim cap Dorsi Reynolds, her coach at the Upper Valley Aquatic Center had given to her before Reynolds succumbed to cancer in 2018.Vera could have hung up her swim cap on after the Channel but her ambition is to complete the triple crown of distance swimming and do the 20-mile ocean swim to California’s Catalina Island.
See a full list of 2020‘s 10 Athletes of the Year in alphabetical order as well as links to previous years’ honorees.