Middlebury Bucket List: #5 Swim in Lake Dunmore

          As a summer student employee, I am a part of a small community of students who are living and working here at Middlebury for a portion of the summer or the entire summer (like myself). To keep us all entertained, we have two awesome summer Residential Assistants planning and throwing events for us. Last Saturday, our RAs took us out to Lake Dunmore, a giant lake that’s about a ten minute drive from campus. It’s where a lot of Midd Kids will go for day trips so it’s been on my bucket list to visit for some time, and I finally got the chance to! I love being in the water, though my swimming skills, or lack thereof, leave something to be desired.
          So we get there around midday and unfortunately, it’s not as sunny as we were hoping it would be. There were some ominous clouds in the distance but the lake and the surrounding area was still beautiful. There were twenty-something Midd Kids all hanging out: snacking, talking, trying to sunbathe with barely any sunlight, and just enjoying each other’s company. I was glad I was doing something to get the city girl out of me – that is, until a seagull pooped on my beach towel. Of course that would happen to me while I was trying to get out of my comfort zone. But my RA assured me that it meant good luck would be coming my way, and I apprehensively accepted that explanation.
          About two hours into our trip, one of our RAs announces that she has rented a canoe for us to use if we were interested. I was too scared to swim in the lake (mostly because my swimming isn’t exactly up to par) and I’d never canoed before, so I figured this was my chance! She told us that it was a four-person boat, so I decided to give it a go along with a friend and two other students who I had just met.
          The first warning sign when we got to the boat was the fact that there were only two life vests in them. Fortunately, my fellow boatmen knew that swimming wasn’t my forte and I was given one of the vests. Then we all got in the boat and started paddling. It was a great boat ride, the water was beautiful and it was nice to get out in the lake. We canoed towards a dock that was a little offshore and began to paddle to turn and get around it. I was so excited that I was actually in a canoe, this is so much fun, the water is-

And now, we are all bonded for life by the power of Dunmore. If you come to Middlebury, going to Lake Dunmore is definitely a must! (I’m the second person from the left!)

SPLASH — our canoe had capsized. I had a few seconds (or maybe minutes) of just panicking and the fear that I was going to drown out there (I hadn’t realized by then that the water actually wasn’t all that deep). Fortunately, I had that lucky life vest and a boat mate who was a camp counselor at some point, so she kept me calm. Out in the distance, I could see my RA and her boyfriend swimming out towards us to save us. While they did that, the four of us in the boat were trying to save ourselves. We ended up pushing the canoe to the dock in the middle of the lake to tip it over and empty it of water. We managed to do that and then we all got on the dock first to put ourselves back in the canoe. And this dock was disgusting, just completely gross. There was bird poo all over this and once the shock had left me, the stench hit me. It was looking like the bird poo that had fallen on my towel wasn’t bringing me good luck after all. But it’s okay, I was having an adventure and that’s all that mattered.

The two people who could canoe paddled it back to shore, while the rest of us stood on that smelly dock. And in my head, I realized that the time had come. I had to swim to shore to survive. Though the situation wasn’t half as life-or-death as I made it out to be. So I took a deep breath…and I jumped off the dock. The water felt great and it was much warmer than land was. I did have an irrational fear of lake monsters capturing me, though. I tried to swim my way back to shore, very much lacking in technique, but having a great time with it anyway. Everyone was ahead of me but they all kept shouting me words of encouragement. The shore looked oh-so-far away and I thought I was never going to make it. And then, before I knew it, I was back at shore and alive and well. All the MiddKids had been watching and kept saying how the canoe capsizing so was so epic and when I reached them sopping wet, I was welcomed back a trooper. And honestly, I was so happy with all that had just happened. I got swimming in Lake Dunmore off my bucket list, I had taken my first swim in an actual body of water, and had just made the memory of a lifetime. And my boat mates and I definitely made a special bond over that ordeal. I guess a seagull pooping in your vicinity guarantees you an adventure, which I’ll take as a form of good fortune any day.

Here’s to more adventures completing my MBL*! Stay tuned!
*This is the first in a series about my Middlebury Bucket List and my adventures and memories in crossing each item off.

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