The swim across lake Memphremagog (August 3, 2002) was indeed a historical landmark; it is highly unusual that one would make such an undertaking more difficult on account of being the sole practitioner of his style. Of the pros who had left from the southern tip of the lake which is located in the state of Vermont, three main categories were identified amongst the remaining group of participants. Most of them were aged 15 to 22; other than the 53 year old athlete, let us state the presence of an individual aged 37. It was therefore a demanding competition. Candidates were offered the possibility to swim over stretches of 1, 2, 5 or 10 km in order to qualify for bursaries or medals.
Raymond-Louis Laquerre's aim was not really to beat his opponents but to focus on the accomplishment of a world-premiere over such a long distance, while crossing 10 km using the dolphin stroke. He wanted to show beyond doubt that such a stroke was worth being known and taught. As a result, the swimmer won the silver medal in the 35 year old and over category. The gold medalist used the crawl which enables a fast swim, while as the dolphin stroke requires endurance.
As he was leaving for the city of Magog, Raymond-Louis knew that contestants would start off at full speed and that he would be left behind to the point where people would wonder what was wrong with him. After the initial 20 minutes have elapsed, he warmed up in such a way as to speed up without feeling tired. Having swam the whole 10 km stretch in 3 hours 44 minutes, our water enthusiast was disappointed to learn that the jury would not acknowledge his feat. Yet, he was awarded a medal without any announcement stating his having swam using the dolphin stroke. Spectators have not lost sight of him along the way; incidentally the course is shaped like a 1 kilometre triangle which should be crossed over ten times (individuals were present at each end). Nobody understood why he swam in this unusual way; they were also doubtful that he could defeat those using the crawl. But what truly mattered to Raymond-Louis was to obtain a written statement by 25 individuals who have witnessed his accomplishment.
Raymond-Louis Laquerre visited Cuba on several occasions. In December 2000, he swam over an 11 km stretch using the crawl and the back crawl in 4 hours 30 minutes. In December 2001, still at Cayo Largo, he swam over a 20 km stretch using the dolphin stroke in 7 hours. He accelerated over the last hour as he thought he had seen a snack bar but in fact it was an army barracks. He got closer to it as he ran on the beach; soldiers told him to clear off as he had entered a forbidden zone. At the time, he only had one idea in mind and that was to have a drink. Lastly in December 2002, back at Cayo Largo he swam over a 15 km stretch (still using the dolphin stroke) in 9 hours; he swam at counter current in a stormy sea from Playa Blanca to the Marina.
Such facts were corroborated by written documents signed by witnesses. Following this last feat, a restaurant employee of the villa where Raymond-Louis was a guest brought theses facts to the attention of the Cuban media.
Nowadays, the athlete is a member of Master Swimmers a sister branch of the Quebec Swimming Federation. He has achieved, using the dolphin stroke, 60 times the length of a pool in 3 minutes and 30 seconds (1500 meters in free style). He also competed in the 50, 100, 200, and 400 meters category (back stroke 200 meters and 400 meters in free style). He also wishes to cross Lac Saint-Jean (the 32 km wide Lake St-John in the province of Quebec) and the English Channel (34 km).
But above and beyond all, his most cherished dream is to get sufficient support in order for the dolphin and the torpedo strokes to be officially recognized by the FINA and the International Olympic Committee. Should you be interested to show your support, please contact Raymond-Louis Laquerre at following address…