Elaine Howley: A Marathon Swimmer’s Extraordinary Journey and Literary Dive into History

Elaine K. Howley, a remarkable marathon swimmer, recently sat down with Ned Denison, Chair of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, to share her incredible journey in the sport.

Elaine’s marathon swimming odyssey began in 2006 with the Boston Light Swim, an event she now directs. One of her notable achievements came in 2009 when she completed the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, conquering the challenging English Channel, Catalina Channel, and swimming around Manhattan Island. Elaine also accomplished The Triple Crown of Lake Monster Swims in 2016, taking on the lengths of Lake Memphremagog, Loch Ness, and Lake Tahoe. Elaine admits her fascination with lake monsters was a driving force behind her decision to tackle these unique swims. She became the first person to swim the 32.3-mile length of Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho and completed multiple ice miles.

Beyond her personal triumphs, Elaine is deeply involved in promoting and organizing marathon swimming events. She holds a significant role in the Massachusetts Open Water Swimming Association (MOWSA), the governing body responsible for the Boston Light Swim and the Jim Doty Memorial Mile. Taking the helm as MOWSA’s president in 2021, Elaine succeeds Greg O’Connor and has exciting plans to expand the scope of solo swims. Additionally, she aims to reintroduce The Egg Rock Scramble, a group swim that harkens back to a historic event dormant since 1975, set to launch in the upcoming fall season.

Elaine’s speaks about her involvement with the Marathon Swimmers Federation (MSF), where she became a member in 2014. Collaborating with Evan Morrison and other passionate individuals, Elaine played a crucial role in shaping the official rules of marathon swimming. Recognizing the value of codifying these rules and defining the parameters of the sport, she actively participates in the MSF’s efforts, ensuring the recognition and promotion of swims while creating opportunities for fellow athletes. Elaine appreciates the collaborative nature of the MSF and its significant contribution to the marathon swimming community.

In addition to her remarkable swimming career, Ned Denison inquired about Elaine’s writing endeavors. Elaine has been a columnist for Outdoor Swimmer magazine since around 2009, sharing her insights on historical swimming topics through her column called “Splashback.” In 2017, she expanded her repertoire with more in-depth features. She recalls her initial proposal, which aimed to explore the rich history of open water and marathon swimming.

Elaine’s most recent article for Outdoor Swimmer delves into the life of the first Baron Lord Desborough, also known as William Henry Grenfell. Desborough served as the inaugural president of the Channel Swimming Association. Elaine’s interest in Desborough was piqued by Michael Loynd’s book, “The Watermen.” She was fortunate to interview Sandy Nairne and Peter Williams, authors of an upcoming biography on Desborough, who provided her with invaluable insights and details. Elaine finds Desborough’s involvement in marathon swimming and other water sports during the early 20th century particularly captivating, making for a compelling exploration in her article.

Check out the interview

A Life Aloft
by Thomas Gompf (Author), Elaine K. Howley (Author)

Being airborne, aloft, free of the bonds of gravity—that, for Thomas Gompf, is the stuff of life.
When he first learned to fly an airplane, he found himself applying terms from his beloved sport of diving to the maneuvers he was mastering. The line blurred between the two disciplines, and he realized that being a pilot and being a diver have an awful lot in common. As an Air Force officer in the Vietnam War, a commercial airline pilot for 30 years, and an Olympic medal-winning diver, Tom found ways for his body to soar. His work in support of Olympic divers and as the “father of synchronized diving” has left an enduring legacy that has inspired others to fly, too. In A Life Aloft, Tom reflects on what he’s learned from pushing himself and the sport of diving to ever greater heights.
” ~ Amazon.com

WOWSA