After SB Traffic 1, here’s a second installment. Fotos 2 and 3 below come from Vladimir Brezina, whose paddle out through the Narrows led to this series. Vladimir has been one of the many kayakers that accompany swimmers as they take part in various Manhattan swim events. My foto below shows swimmers, kayakers, and support boats a few miles into the 28.5 mile circumnavigation back in June 2006.
In this foto, Vladimir accompanies a swimmer near the end of that race in 2004. While he spots and paddles, he suddenly finds himself in the company of a tug moving a bunker barge away from the passenger terminal.
Here’s another foto by Vlad from a June 2009 race. And how long would you imagine swimming the 28.5 miles takes? Answer follows.
Of course, one-human-power AND tens of thousands of horse-power sometimes encounter each other sans swimmers. This kayaker heads westbound on the KVK
in early February. What’s not obvious from this foto (yes … I use the foto in spite of its “unfocus” because of its drama.) is the fact that container vessel Daedalus is about to make a hard turn to port following the channel and the kayaker is only about 30 feet off the southern bank of the KVK.
I never spoke with the kayaker to learn his launch/destination points.
Results for the top finishers in the 2009 Manhattan circumnavigation race can be found here. A little over seven hours is all it took for the fastest swimmer, John Van Wisse, who once crossed the English Channel, about 22 miles, in just over eight hours. The race is said to be a fund-raiser, except I’ve been unable to discern who these funds are raised for. Anyone help?
A swimmer a few years back was . . . Bowsprite. What follows are excerpts from her log:
“[I swam as part of a team of four: Anita, Sho, Anne and me. You might think the physical part of the swim is gruelling, but …] “the mental part is harder. The swimming is mental, once you have the form down. It is so easy to decide to stop after a certain time, when you think you really have had enough, or to think that it is so cold and your jaw is frozen and your fingers are splayed and stiff that you will surely die so you must get out. But, there [in the spotter boat] is my swim partner [from a cold ocean race], Abe, saying through clenched jaw: ‘C’mon, only 20 minutes to go, we can do it, I’m cold, too… 20 mins!!!’ Although you want to say, ‘no, sorry, I really must get out!’, somehow, you persevere, and then 21 mins later, shivering uncontrollably on the grey, cold beach in the whipping wind, feeling truly ill, cold and horrible, you feel also elated because you have pushed yourself even further than you thought possible.”
Currents present a problem: “I had unwisely chosen to sight off the kayak instead of navigating, as lifting the head straight up just steals a bit of time. But, with currents running amok near Hell’s Gate, I saw that one moment the first Harlem River bridge was dead ahead, and 3 strokes later, I was looking into the Long Island Sound. I was swimming a wild zigzag.”
Besides the cold and currents, critters wait in the water: “At 7am, the first swimmers jumped in, and swam through stinging jellyfish around to the East River.”
As part of a four-woman team, each swimmer got the parts of the swim that fit into the rotation: “I got the area of the 137st sewage treatment plant. How lucky can a girl get? Once I came out of the water with a nice green algae beard and moustache. At least, we hope it was algae. At 102st, Anita goes in to a very strong current against her. We all now have to swim only 30mins. each, and she takes us to around 116th, where Anne swims past the circus and the worst garbage. There were many coney island ‘whitefishes.’ I guess here they’re called ‘harlem whitefishes’. I’m very glad they’re being used, but please, put them somewhere else when you’re done!) Anne started to make lunch, but threw up when she saw all the garbage around us. It was pretty bad.”
But when it’s over: ” Anne’s husband opened champagne for us, so we first rinsed out with alcohol! We got hosed off, and stood about very happy. My friend Valerie came along with cubs Eva and Max and my scowling mother, and we ran up along the river to get a towel. I had been in the water the longest and it is cooler down here, so I was cold. We ran into Abe and Cristian and Oscar and many jubilant, congratulating people. And, then, Abe got me my first margarita in months. Well, ok, he got me two. In all, a very fun, great day!”
Many thanks to Vladimir Brezina for fotos 2 and 3 and Bowsprite for her narrative. More swimming here.
Unrelated: Now I learn about this oyster and beer fest . . .!
Otherwise unattributed fotos by Will Van Dorp.