The 2009 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim had started.
I stayed in my usual, favorite position in a race, the outside right of the pack.
I was swimming my own race/swim today, no pressure, ESPECIALLY at the start of a 7 hour plus swim. I have never been a sprinter and I really have to warm-up for at least 30 minutes to feel good in the water.
We quickly swam south, passing the new Holocaust Museum and the tip of Manhattan, Battery Park. The sun was rising in front of us, but the reflection off the tall skyscrapers blinded me when I took a breath on my left hand side.
I didn't have to fight for any position, in my mind, I was warming up and NOT racing today, just training. I will continue telling myself this through out the day.
As we passed the docks for the Statue of Liberty Ferry and neared the large Staten Island Ferry, the pack was breaking up and the kayaks were trying to match up with their swimmers. In a few minutes we passed the Governor's Island Ferry port, Runar, my kayaker had found me by then and was trying to get on left hand side. It was difficult to see him clearly with blinding reflections shining on us. I was feeling good and confident, looking up every few swim cycles to check on my swim line.
We could see the big, beautiful Brooklyn Bridge up ahead of us. As we swam past South Street Seaport, I remembered how far out in the river we usually have been. Today, we will be swimming much closer to the Manhattan coast, should be interesting.
I remember seeing a glimpse of 'Taz' our boat, the bright orange Tennessee Flags came in handing to easily spot Liz and Bertha waving them at the stern. By then, we had quickly moved north, I looked up above to see the Brooklyn Bridge, trying to see Janet. I wondered if she had made it, but as you see the photos from the bridge, you can tell she had. Great Pics Janet!!!
As we flew by the Brooklyn Bridge, we were to stay pretty close to the Manhattan coast. I could feel the turbulence from the currents. Soon we were north by the United Nations building. No time for sightseeing, keep on swimming.
More bridges to swim under. While we swam, Janet met up with her sister, Dianne, they had some fun with the Statue of liberty.
As we reached the upper East side, we were met by some friends looking for us up on the walk ways. Mina was 1st, that's Liz's Mom, I could see her Carnation (Not really, but she said that was how we could recognize her).
This was a fun spot to swim, the (under) water was calming, just moving us up north at a nice clip. The Gracie Mansion Parkway flew by, with no trouble at Hell's Gate. We stayed to left with no thought or risk of being brought up into Long Island Sound.
We entered the Harlem River, with the big, green Foot Bridge in front of us. I had entertainment, with my NY (English Channel swimming) friend, Meryem Tangoren, walked along shore, waving and cheering for me and the other swimmers. She must have stayed with us for at least 2 miles. Pretty good for just having her 3rd child a month ago. Thanks Meryem for company.
I had fun heading up the Harlem River, the water was calm and I could see some interesting "stuff" on the sides. One place looked like a Circus Tent in the Bronx (I think that's a BIG market). We swim under much lower bridges in this area, until we pass Yankee Stadium.
I remember passing #32, but I knew that was a relay and I really did not care, solo vs. relay, no competition there.
I was trying just to focus on good technique and what was happening to my body, how my back was feeling, shoulders, elbows.... then I saw a 32 fly by my right side. The relay must have changed swimmers, fresh arms and legs moving much faster than me, that's OK, Go Mexico.
As we moved north and passed the Roberto Clemente Park on my right side, I remembered the morning training sessions in the outdoor pool with my NYC friend, Marcia Cleveland, Karen Farnsworth and a few others I can't remember, that was back in 1991. Every morning I would meet my ride on East 96nd Street and 3rd Avenue. We would go up to the pool, meet the other swimmers, workout for a couple hours and then we would all go our separate ways to work or school. I haven't thought about those days for a long time. A great group of friends, on weekends we would cram into cars for road trips to CT and swim the 1 mile challenges in Westport and Greenwich.... wow, memories.
Now we're closing in on #20 ... is that you Podge? Sorry to pass you, but we must keep on swimming.
As we close in on the top of the island, there were many construction cranes on both sides. Yes, the Columbia "C", we are almost there. I love the landmarks for this swim, so interesting, keeping your mind busy.
Quickly we moved under the HIGH Henry Hudson Highway bridge and toward the swinging railroad bridge.
I noticed the "Circle Line" cruiser move past us, and our boat 'Taz' followed through the opening into the Hudson River. While they went to right, I was escorted under the Railroad Bridge, the lowest to swim under.
I could feel a shift in the water currents as the Harlem River met the Hudson. There wasn't too much surface action, pictures can not show what my hands and arms were encountering under the surface.
With the water flowing faster, we quickly made our way south toward the famous GWB, George Washington Bridge. The bridge is so High, it looks closer than it is. I had the experience not to get too excited, knowing I had at least an hour of swimming to reach the Little Red Lighthouse that guards the water under the bridge.
After only looking up 4 times from my swimming pattern, we quickly passed under the GWB, the LAST bridge to pass under, yippee!!! I screamed "last bridge" as we flew under.
The conditions seemed to shift after the bridge, more turbulence and a mild chop. I could see Runar and Tim (my kayak escorts), and 'Taz' rocking on the surface.
I tried not to get too excited, we still had a few hours left to reach the finish line but the scenery became more interesting as we closed in on the Upper West Side. As I saw the Columbia University Tower in the distance, I remembered the days training in the pool with the Redtide Masters program.
Next was the Boat Basin, where had a few Island swim parties. All of the sudden, I looked up and there was a green bow coming right at me. It was moving slowly by now, and all I heard from a guy leaning over the starboard side, "it's OK, you missed her". I touched the boat with my right hand, not believing what had just happened. What an idiot, he must have been flying up the river and not noticing my boat and kayaks. I am just thankful my 'guardian angel' was pushing me away from danger again.
We passed the Intrepid Museum, midtown position now and I could see that Emprie State Building(ESB) again. "Follow the close buildings", I kept telling myself. If I follow the ESB, it will be there for a very long time and can be an optical illusion to trick your mind that you are not moving....
but we were. Soon the North Cove bright, white tents were in view, soon. I picked my kick, don't ask me why, but my excitement increased, the finish was close.
We started to move to the left and the coast line. The Battery City walk way was there, with many spectators enjoying the beautiful, sunny day and cheering for the unexpected swimmers passing by them.
The ORANGE buoys were in sight, yes!!!! 200 yards. I could hear voices screaming, cheering me onto the finish.
I rounded the corner, turning left into South Cove, seeing the finish line only 15 yards away.
Touch... it's over... 7 hours 49 minutes, 59 seconds (7:50 is easier).
A GOOD Day in the water. Morty Berger looked down at me to officiate my finish.