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Your Guides

Hopper McDonough dreamed up the idea for SwimVacation in the 1990s, ran his first trip in 2008, and now serves as President of the company.  Hopper, a former Division I collegiate swimmer, began competing in open water events in 1989, and has racked up several pool and open water course records in his career. He recently completed a 1o kilometer swim in Vermont’s Lake Memphremagog, and a 12-mile swim around Charleston, SC in a 2-person relay with his wife Cortney. He has been featured in The New York Times, Triathlete Magazine, and in Outside Magazine for his 23-mile swimming adventure through the British Virgin Islands. Hopper continues to find new adventures for his guests in Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, in Maine’s lakes, and beyond.

Heather Perry has been swimming and diving in the Virgin Islands since 1996, and is a SwimVacation guide, photographer and marine naturalist. Heather is a former collegiate swimmer and currently competes in open water swimming races around Maine. She serves as SwimVacation’s go-to guide, photographer, and new location scout. She is also a professional freelance photographer specializing in underwater work, and lives in Maine with her husband and son. You can see more of Heather’s work at www.heatherperryphoto.com.

Will Thomas has been a swim, triathlon, track, and cross-country coach, a teacher, and a marketing account executive, as well as helped launch a retail enterprise in 2003. An avid triathlete, he has competed in over 60 multisport events, including Ironman Lake Placid in 2005, and typically places near the top of the field. In the off-season, Will enjoys telemark skiing and launching new companies. He splits whatever time he has leftover between surfing, cycling, drinking coffee, debating politics, reading the news, and traveling. Will owns the triathlon production company Tri-Maine:

Tim Fitzpatrick has been competing in open water swimming events since one of the first Great Chesapeake Bay Bridge swim races in 1990. Tim has successfully continued competing in open water swimming events over the years in the Mid-Atlantic area. Tim competed in the 2006 Friends of St. John Island Swim and finished 3rd in a field of 200 swimmers. Tim is a former Division I college swimmer and water polo player and continues to assist triathletes and competitive swimmers on technique and endurance training.

David Barra has focused on marathon distance events for the past few years, completing 7 marathons in 2010 (Maui Channel, Tampa Bay, MIMS, Catalina Channel, Boston Light, English Channel, and Ederle). In 2011, he and Rondi Davies co-directed and swam the 120 mile 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim.  David has been a participating coach for Total Immersion open water camps for the past 6 years in Eleuthera, Kona, and St John. His blog can be found on the USMS forum. David lives in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley and trains with the Shawangunk Masters at SUNY New Paltz, and with friends at Lake Minnewaska, the Hudson River, and CIBBOWS (Coney Island Open Water Swimmers). David and Clare (married 22 years) met on the beach at Coney Island in 1988.

Alina Perez discovered her love of open water swimming on the rocky Maine coast. Placing in the top of her age group nationally she has competed in open water races all across the country including Alcatraz Sharkfest, the Great Chesapeake Bay Bridge Swim and recently as the top female in the St. Croix 2- Mile Coral Reef Swim.  A sprinter by nature, she is an avid Masters swimmer having dozens of Top Ten USMS times, several All-American Relays and a FINA World Top Ten time in 2010. In the summer she likes to rally friends to try new adventure swims, especially at night. She lives in Maine with her three children and is a practicing clinical child psychologist and high school swim coach.

Simon Wignall is a native of Montreal, Canada. He relocated to Maine in 2005 and currently lives in Falmouth, with his wife, 2 sons and their funny dog, named Sully. He is the business manager at Southern Maine Pediatric Dentistry and enjoys most outdoor activities. Between the ages of 11 and 37, Simon spent only 4 years away from a pool deck. He has coached age group swimmers and served as the Head swimming coach for John Abbott College. Simon is an active member of Maine Masters swimming, and enjoys training 3-5 times per week. Simon once scoffed at the idea of open water swimming, but has grown to love the sport and cannot live without it. He trains in the ocean as well as in Maine’s lakes and rivers. He has raced in Hudson River (NYC), the Chesapeake Bay (MD), and most of Maine’s open water races. He has even tried his hand at triathlons, but a runner he is not!

Ryan McGuckin is resident lifeguard for our Kona, Hawaii trip. A native of Kona, Ryan spent much of his childhood playing in the Pacific’s waves, and is still a standout body boarder in the islands. Ryan knows every surf break, calm bay, reef, and lava rock on the Kona coast. When he’s not on SwimVacation duty, Ryan is a professional lifeguard for the City of Kona. He lives with his wife and daughter on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Guest Guides


Maury McKinney is a Masters Swimming coach and open water swimming enthusiast who lives in North Conway, NH.  Also a mountain man, he has climbed mountains small and large around the US, Pakistan, Nepal, Ecuador, Peru, and South Africa.  Maury recently completed a 42-mile, 26-hour double crossing of Lake Winnipesaukee to raise money to build an aquatic facility in his hometown.

Cortney Linville has been swimming in the Virgin Islands for 13 years. When not on a Swimvacation, Cortney is a family practice physician, and also competes in triathlons and open water swimming competitions around New England. She lives in Maine with her husband, Hopper, and their children.

Elaine K. Howley is a former Division I collegiate swimmer who began competing in open water events in 2006 on a dare; she hasn’t looked back and only trains in the pool when the New England weather turns beastly. With a long list of completed open water swims, in 2009, Elaine became the 32nd person to ever complete the Triple Crown of open water swimming, which includes the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, and the around Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. She is also the current record-holder for the fastest double crossing of the Boston Harbor, for which she was featured on NPR. She has set her sights on some day completing the Ocean’s Seven. In the mean time, she is a full time member of the editorial staff of SWIMMER magazine. She has extensive coaching and teaching experience. You can read more about Elaine on her blog, Tales of the Beer Baby.

Eric Gordon joins our April 2014 SwimVacation team by reuniting with an old college teammate and friend. Eric has been swimming since age 10, and has previously competed in open water races in Long Island Sound. His career has been an individual medley of positions, including Research Scientist in the laboratories of the battery industry, Business Analyst for an insurance company, and founder of a renewable energy company that recycled used fryer oil into an alternative fuel called biodiesel. He currently lives in Watertown, CT with his wife and two boys. The boys play hockey and prefer their water in solid form.