There are morning people and then there are morning people. Jessica Stammen and her friends would be the latter.

In the early morning of July 31, a group of nine swimmers and five paddlers made the trek from Norton Pond in Lincolnville through the narrows at Fernald’s Neck to Barrett’s Cove on Megunticook Lake in Camden.

One group of Midcoast residents did the six-mile stretch at 6 a.m. and the other began at 7 a.m.

The group included swimmers Stammen, Shannon Thompson, Kathy Kandziolka, Mish Morgenstern, Drew Darling, Brenden Riodan, Kate Killoran, Scott Layton and Maureen Scott; and support paddlers Helen Bonzi, Cheryl Levin, Kea Tessyman and Kate Killoran’s parents.

The long watery trek was nothing new for Stammen. In fact, most of the people, including Stammen, are competitive triathletes, bicyclists, swimmers and/or paddlers. Stammen said she does the swim because she likes being intimate with the layout of the land she lives in.

“You know, just really taking it in on the human scale by that stoke-by-stroke effort and letting the water move over you and knowing that this is where I live, this is what I get to do,” said the Camden resident. “Not everybody in the world has a chance to live in such a beautiful place and to appreciate it in such an intense kind of way.”

Stammen, a talented all-around high school and college athlete, likes “being able to say: I know the entire length of that lake,” she said. “I have traveled that whole thing at my body’s pace rather than on a speedboat.”

Stammen said that this is the fourth year that she and friends have swum the distance.

Stammen only started to learn to swim about four years ago when a friend challenged her to open-water swim. After a month of training, she was able to swim a mile and increased that to two miles after the second month of training, then up to six miles by the end of the summer.

Now she does the six-mile Lincolnville-to-Camden stretch once a year.

Stammen added that the group swims in the morning, in large part, for practical reasons. For one, early on there are less boats and the water is not so choppy.

“Also, early in the morning you get to see the sunrise,” she said. “It’s just absolutely gorgeous.”

This year the water was warmer than the air, so there was even sea smoke coming off it. “It was almost otherworldly. It was so, so very beautiful,” Stammen said.

One of the most memorable parts of this year’s swim was a loon attack. At one point during the swim, Stammen and a friend had ventured too close to one of the birds or its nest.

“Apparently the loon got right up on the water and did that crazy walk with the wings open and just went right at us, but we were completely oblivious to it,” she said.

All in all, Stammen said she has become addicted to the six-mile swimming tradition and will keep it alive as long as she is able.

“I plan on doing this every single year until I die, pretty much,” she said. “Until my body gives out and I can’t swim anymore.”

Village NetMedia Sports Reporter Frederick Freudenberger can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail at fritz@villagesoup.com.