Open water marathon swimmer Puranjot Kaur on a recent training swim. Kayaker Natalie Springuel is one of Kaur’s extensive volunteer support team for her swim all the way around Mount Desert Island, planned for later this month. NATALIE SPRINGUEL PHOTO

Kaur plans 24-hour, 44-mile ‘Round the Rock’ swim



BAR HARBOR — On Monday at 5:15 a.m., the day started like nearly every other for open water marathon swimmer Puranjot Kaur. 

She grabs her swim bag and heads for Echo Lake in Acadia National Park or the ocean waters surrounding Mount Desert Island. She spends about three hours in the water each morning, crisscrossing her way to 10,000 yards (5.7 miles),seven days per week. 

An assistant coach for the MDI YMCA Sharks Swim Team, Kaur has competed in several open-water ultra-marathons and most recently took 1st Place for Women (3rd Place Overall) in the 10-Mile Kingdom Swim in Lake Memphremagog, Newport, Vt. (July 2019). 

Some people swim for pleasure, some for exercise and some for healing,” Karu said in a statement. Her journey includes all three. And it got her thinking, “What if I tried to swim all the way around Mount Desert Island?” 

On or around Aug. 26,she will set out to do just that, for reasons that incorporate both the personal and dedication to community,” she said. 

The swim will be the fall fundraising kickoff for Open Table MDI, an island nonprofit, run by her and her husband, which focuses on food security and community building.  

The swim around MDI, which has never been attempted before, will be approximately 44 statute miles and will take roughly 24 hours to complete. Kaur will wear only a normal bathingsuit, cap, goggles and earplugs. 

The use of a wetsuit, even in the cooler waters offMDI, is against the rules of the Marathon Swimmers Federation (MSF), the international organization that keeps historical records and ratifies open-water marathon swims. 

“Marathon swimmers embrace the challenge of crossing wild, open bodies of water with minimal assistance beyond their own physical strength and mental fortitude,” according to the MSFThere are ways to make the sport easier, but marathon swimmers consciously eschew them.”  

A marathon swim is defined as a nonstop open-water swim undertaken according to standardized rules and requiring at least several hours of sustained effort to complete 6.2 miles (the minimum distance considered to be a marathon swim) without significant assistance from currents. The swimmer remains in the water for the duration of the swim from start to finish without intentional physical contact with escort vessels, support personnel or other objects (fixed or floating). 

Kaur will be escorted throughout by an extensive volunteer team of local sea kayakers and boaters, as well as ThePisspot, piloted by Eddie “Diver Ed” Monat and crewed by Edna “Captain Evil” Martin. Additional boat support will include College of the Atlantic’s research vessel Osprey, piloted by Toby Stephenson. 

Kaur moved to Mount Desert Island from Rhode Island in 1998 to attend College of the Atlantic, where she graduated with a focus in education and adolescent psychology.She works as managing director of an international yoga teachers association, and founder (with her husband) of Open Table MDI. 

Prior to those projects, she worked as an educator and community builder in numerous settings, including at the MDI BioLab, the Bar Harbor Chamber of Commerce and College of the Atlantic. She lives in Bar Harbor with her husband,Mahandeva, and their three children. 

Current sponsors of the swim include Diver Ed’s Dive-In Theater, College of the Atlantic, Machias Savings Bank and Coastal Kayaking Tours/Acadia Bike. Those interested in sponsorship should contact [email protected]. 

Visit the Round the Rock website for more info or to donate: https://www.opentablemdi.org/round-the-rock-2020/.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.