IN THE NEWS: Distance swim marks a milestone birthday

September 22, 2023 Issue of the Blackstone Valley Xpress

Distance swim marks a milestone birthday

Victory! Eric Shrayer at the completion of his swim. Photo submitted

By Patty Roy
Eric Shrayer celebrated his 50th birthday in August, but decided to add a  challenge to the festivities by making a long swim around Manchaug Pond.
Rather than setting distance goals, Shrayer headed for landmarks as he rounded the circumference of the lake.
 “I swam point to point around the perimeter of the lake,” he said. “The channel where the dam is, and on the other side by old Holbrook Campground, there’s a sandbar, Blueberry Island and there’s conservation land on one point, the South Cove.“ Those were the markers he used, familiar to him from boyhood.
He wore no fins, no goggles, no swim shirt, just kept it simple with swimming trunks. Shrayer guessed the water temperature was about 70 degrees. “It was nice, it was a warm night the night before.”

He also noted it was cloudy and rainy on the day of his swim “So that lowered the chances of me getting hit by a boat.”

 Above: Shrayer’s entrance to the Channel 

Below, Manchaug Pond map showing Eric Shrayer’s point to point 50th birthday swim.

Photo submitted


Shrayer completed the swim in under two hours, but claims the kudos must be shared.
“My wife Karen really deserves the credit here because she sat next to me in a kayak so I didn’t get hit by a boat. She’s the real star here,” Shrayer said.
Shrayer grew up on the lake and always loved swimming and spending time there. “There’s a lot of good people on the lake. The Manchaug Pond Foundation does a good job raising money and things like that.”
He muses that maybe he caught the competitive swim bug from his daughter Allie, a senior who swims with the Grafton High School Gators and is a team MVP.
“She would critique my form and tell me how I could do it better,” he laughed.
Shrayer did some light training over the summer, extending his swims every time he went in.
“I started from where my family’s house is and just kept upping the distance” he said, “until I thought I could do it without drowning.”
Reflecting on his long distance swim, Shrayer modestly described his achievement as “nice.”
“Yeah, I guess if I’m going to turn 50, I figured I might as well get out there and do something I’d like to do,” he said.
Shrayer also gave credit to The Manchaug Pond Foundation for the healthy, clear condition of the water. They raise funds for tending to this precious resource by running events like the DAM Race 5K and 3K Health Walk on Oct. 14.
The Manchaug Pond Foundation, is a 501c3 non-profit public charity.  Race registration begins at 8:30 a.m. with the runners taking off at 9:30 a.m.
The route is a scenic one, skirting the lake, with the start at 19 Hole Road near King’s Campground. There is parking at both the start and finish line. Hang around for refreshments after.  $20 to enter. Register at