Introducing the 2017 8 Bridges Swimmers

Liz Morrish

We are in the last few weeks of preparation for the swimmers taking part in the 2017 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim. 27 of 53 participants responded to a questionnaire, so here is a brief introduction to some of those who are doing multiple stages of the swim.  I hope to introduce the others during the week of the swim. I will also be asking them questions about training, nutrition and staying motivated for this marathon event. As you will see, they are an experienced and well-prepared group of swimmers.

Doing each stage of the swim:

Abby Fairman is 40 and from Turbotville, PA. She works as a marketing director. Previous marathon swims include 8 Bridges Stage 6 (2016, 2015), Catalina Channel (2016) and Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS) (2014).

Harry Finger is 59 and from São Paulo, Brazil. He is an architect, and also owns a soup shop! He has completed an English Channel swim and the 14 Bis in Brazil. The 8 Bridges has given him motivation to continue marathon swimming after knee surgery in 2016.

Edward Riley is 58 and from New York, NY. He has already completed several stages of the 8 Bridges in previous years. What keeps him coming back to 8 Bridges? “It’s the gold standard for marathon swimming. It not only measures your endurance but also speed and uniquely your recovery”.

Flávio Toi is 51 and from Campinas, Brazil where he works as an electrical engineer. He has completed the swim round Key West and also the 40km Tietê river In Brazil. He will be accompanied by his wife and 12 year old son.

Jamie Tout is 64 and from Austin, Texas. He is a retired revenue agent for IRS. Previously completed swims include the English Channel, Catalina Channel, MIMS, Saguro Lake and Canyon Lake of SCAR 2016, and various stages of 8 Bridges. He has also run marathons and completed the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon in 1981, the same year as his English Channel swim.

Swimming three stages:

Ali Hall is 55 and from San Francisco, CA. She is a trainer and behavior change consultant for helping professionals in life coaching and health coaching. She is a seasoned marathon swimmer, having competed in various locations across the USA. She has had a serious spinal injury, so swimming in the 8 Bridges stages 1, 3 and 4 will definitely be a challenge.

Spencer Schneider is 57 and from New York, NY. He is a lawyer who has completed Sections of 8 Bridges, 20 Bridges and Around Montauk swims. This year he is swimming stages 1, 3 and 5. He is also a triathlete and trail runner.

Swimming two stages:

Joshua Gordon is 21. He was born in Welwyn, UK but now lives in Phoenixville, PA where he works as a swim instructor. He has previously completed swims around Key West, and the Kingdom 15 mile Border Buster. He is doing stages 4 and 7, and is aiming to gain experience for an attempt at the English Channel.

Stephen Rouch is 36 and from Indianapolis, IN. He is a software developer. Stephen is registered for stages 2 and 3. Since he went to college in Poughkeepsie, he is keen to start and finish there.  He has previously been a SCAR participant.

Eric Schall is 56 and from Kingston, PA where he manages a Ready Mixed Concrete company.  He is coached by Mary Stabinsky (below). He has previously done a number of 10k and 10 mile swims including Lake George, the Potomac River Swim and the Lake Memphemagog 10 Mile. Swimming stages 1 and 5 of 8 Bridges will be a way of stepping up towards his planned 20 Bridges swim round Manhattan in August 2017.

Mary Stabinsky is 40 and from Plains, GA where she is a Financial Analyst/Internal Auditor for an AutoMall. Together with Eric Schall, she is swimming stages 1 and 5 in preparation for a 20 Bridges attempt in August 2017. Mary has previously completed Lake George 10k and Spuyten Duyvil 10k swims.

Mark Spratt is 61 and from Indianapolis, IN where he is a Controller for the Indiana Department of Corrections. He has completed several marathon swims including MIMS, Catalina Channel and SCAR. His most memorable swim, though was the 2013 Ederle Swim, in particular swimming under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Mark is swimming stages 3 and 4, having swum stage 6 last year. His goal is to do all 7 stages over time.

Paula Yankauskas is 62 and from Hyde Park, Vermont. She is a veterinarian who is a seasoned marathon swimmer with an English Channel swim and a Lake Champlain swim under her belt, as well as many others. She is swimming stages 3 and 4.

LET’S SWIM! ENDLESS SWIMS! DENSE SWIRLS

by Janet Harris

Friday shortly after 4am I met up with other NYC-based swimmers to travel upstate to swim in Stage 5 of 8 Bridges.  It was a morning with some complicated event logistics.  Swimmers, kayakers, and the smaller support vessels launched from three different locations before converging under Bear Mountain Bridge at splash time, and cars were parked at yet a fourth place near the finish. Rondi’s shuttle van plan to get everyone where we needed to go worked to perfection, and is just one example of the ways the organizers tweak this event to make it better every year.  My kayaker for the day was Terry, who has worked with 8 Bridges from the beginning, and I was looking forward to enjoying her experience and easy camaraderie on the river.

The swimmers rode the main support boat, Launch 5, upriver from Ossining, and we were treated to a reverse preview of nearly the entire 19+ mile course.  It was a beautiful morning, and I enjoyed the view from the bow of the boat while chilling out with friends.  I felt peaceful, confident, and ready to take on the challenges the day would bring. 

Once Launch 5 was under the bridge, Dave pulled alongside on Agent Orange and boarded the boat for a brief safety briefing and course preview.  He had just come from doing the same for the kayakers, who were entering the river from the west and paddling downstream towards the bridge.  Soon we were in the water and off.  Under the bridge away from shore the current was still flooding—I was one of the first off the boat and had floated back a bit during the brief interval before the start—but once underway we moved to the far western shore, hugging the shoreline and enjoying an eddying current that took us swiftly downstream.

It was fun swimming so close to shore—seeing wooded areas, rocky outcroppings, and houses passing by so quickly made it feel like we were making good progress.  Once or twice I had to scull along because of rocks under me, but that was ok.  I used to get creeped out by underwater outcroppings and the possibility of touching things underneath me, but the lake swimming I’ve done the past few seasons has made me braver.  Now I think it’s interesting to swim in depths where you can see the bottom.  That close to shore, I could also feel the vibrations of approaching freight trains, whose tracks ran right by the water—it was really cool to see and hear them zoom by at such speed

I was feeling good, the water was a little warm but still comfortable, and the sun was occasionally peeking out from the clouds.  The river seemed busy, with boats zipping by out in the channel and a big barge floating slowly upriver.  At one of my first feeds, my kayaker explained to me that a passing boat had been on fire, and that Launch 5 had taken on its passengers until help arrived.  We watched a fire boat racing up to the scene while I stopped to feed.

I was loving the day, feeling exuberant, and playing games by making anagrams from the branding on the side of Terry’s kayak (WILDERNESS SYSTEMS).  LET’S SWIM!  ENDLESS SWIMS!  DENSE SWIRLS in the water?  Are those YEW TREES or MYRTLES on shore?  I hoped to avoid any MESSY WRENS or SLIMY NEWTS.

Around 2h30 into the swim I started feeling sick to my stomach.  For some reason I didn’t want to tell my kayaker, but she cottoned on when I started requesting just water for some feeds and telling her I didn’t want to eat any more solid foods.  The nausea, which persisted during the rest of my swim, was a new experience for me, and a surprising one, since I have always used quite a variety of feeds and never before had a problem.  One of my goals for the day was to be proactive at solving problem on the water, working to fix things that could be fixed instead of simply trying to endure them.  I started thinking about what I could do to improve matters.  I drank more water for the next few feeds, thinking that maybe my carbs-to-water ratio was off, and dropped the more substantial feeds (milk, sticky rice concoctions) from my rotation.

The current was beginning to change, and we soon headed out into the channel to take advantage of the increasing ebb.  Here our progress was faster, but less apparent because onshore landmarks were further away.  I liked being in the cooler water away from shore with a bit more movement in it.  At one feed Terry asked me if I could feel the south wind picking up—I couldn’t feel the wind per se, but knew that the sort of wind-against current chop we were experiencing meant that it was blowing stronger.  (The fact that she was having to paddle a little harder, and that the front of her kayak was occasionally out of the water, also clued me in).

Meanwhile I was still having stomach issues, and they were getting worse.  I was feeling weak and little chilled, and my stroke count had decreased.  I needed more calories, but was simply unable to take in much at each feed. Somewhere between 5 and 6 hours I discussed getting out with Terry and she asked me if I wanted to get out right now, or a little later.  I decided that I could swim a bit more.  At this point I was feeling such an aversion to putting anything else in my stomach that I wanted to swim away from the kayak whenever she held up a feed bottle.  I decided to force the issue by gulping down as much of my gatorade/water mixture as I could.  That had the expected result, and I felt a little better for about a half-hour. 

Although I knew I wasn’t swimming very strong at this point, I was still enjoying being in the water.  Large hawks were soaring overhead, and I wondered if some of them were bald eagles.  As a volunteer on Launch 5 during the previous stage, I had seen lots of fish jumping out of the water.  I saw splashes around and imagined they were made by curious fish leaping up for a closer look at us.  During one feed, Terry told me that one jumped right behind me, but I missed it.  Occasionally I saw movements under the water, and wondered what the creatures might be below me.  I was hoping to see a big sturgeon.

We passed Ossining marina, where we had started our day, on the left, and the Tappen Zee was looming far ahead.  We continued making progress, and at one point Terry told me we had an hour until the flood current started, and that if I stroked hard she thought I could make it.  I imagined myself consisting of just arms and legs, with no queasy stomach in between, and tried to move my limbs as strongly and deliberately as I could.  Tobey on the jet ski came by and hovered close for a while, and I saw a boatload of other swimmers who had called it a day being ferried up to Launch 5.  They cheered me on as they passed, and I waved back.

At this point I knew it was becoming more and more unlikely that I would make the bridge by the time the current turned.  Unlike previous stages, where swimmers can creep along shore after the flood starts, construction zones for the new Tappen Zee bridge mean that Stage 5 swimmers must finish near the shipping channel, where the current is strongest.  The south wind would probably hasten the onset of the flood, and although I was still plodding along I was far from my best swimming self at the moment.  All this passed through my mind, but in truth I wasn’t much concerned at this point with whether I finished or not.  All I wanted was to feel better.  I reasoned that if I was feeling this bad, I might as well feel bad in the water (where there was plenty of room to puke) as on a crowded boat, so I just kept stroking along.

At about 8h45 in, we were still a little less than two miles from the bridge when Sean’s RHIB motored up beside us.  Janine told us that lightning had been spotted and that the field was being evacuated.  I think I was too out of it at this point to feel either disappointment or relief.  My kayaker and I climbed aboard, and we picked up a few more swimmers and another kayaker before going ashore.  We were reunited with the rest of the swimmers and our bags at Tarrytown marina.  Once out of the water, I slowly did start to feel better, and eventually was able to eat some of the food I’d packed for after the swim, which perked me up even more.  Some scary weather followed our exit from the river.  Kudos to Dave and Rondi for making the call to pull us, and to them and the boaters and volunteers for getting all the swimmers and kayakers off the river and out of harm’s way.

I was very happy to hear that the two swimmers who have made all the previous stages, Paige and Cheryl, were able to make it to the bridge before the bad weather set in.  They were the only two of the fifteen of us who started who were able to finish the stage.  Another swimmer, Steve Gruenwald, was closer to the bridge than I and seemingly had a good chance of finishing—I had seen his kayaker pass by me about a half hour before we were pulled, and he was looking really strong.  Others hung tough for hours in some challenging conditions and met their personal goals or found new confidence for future events.  Jim Braddock, for one, told me after the swim that it was his longest to date.  Despite the abrupt end, there was lots of good to take home from the day on the river. 

Once I felt better physically, I was able to look back on my day and feel pleased with my efforts.  I took away plenty of positives, learned some things that I can put to use in future swim adventures, and once again got to enjoy the glorious experience of swimming in the Hudson—a win-win-win day after all!

you can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water

By Louise Hyder-Darlington

Beyond swimming, I love to write. I was happy Rondi took up my offer to write up a few words for Stage 6. While training leaves little time for writing, it provides endless hours for swimmers immersed in watery contemplation. Time to contemplate breathing, stroke, technique, fatigue, aging, motivation, fear, friendships, futures, pasts. All jumbled together. This will be my second year swimming stage 6. I swam stages 3 and 6 in 2015. I was dead last for both stages and would not have changed it for the world. I overcame challenges and pushed myself farther than I had thought possible. I guess that is why we love 8 Bridges. The memories I have from last year bring smiles, not fear, to my face, even now. The joy of hearing David coaxing me to the shadow of the second span of the Beacon-Newburgh Bridge, surprised that passing under the first shadow was not sufficient. “Just a little further Louise.” The hearty handshakes from everyone on the boat after finally clearing the Agent Orange ladder … worst part of the swim. Hearing Rondi cheering me on as I finally approached the towering George Washington Bridge. Hearing her call from far off “….you can do it Louise.” Indeed, I did it.

I return to Stage 6 this year because my husband of 32 years wanted to give it a try. As did one of my best and dearest friends as well. They have worked hard. Nailing training swim after training swim. Endless hours immersed in their own contemplation about 15.7 miles down the Hudson River. Why we do it is different for each and every swimmer. I believe this is especially true of those wonderful heroes in the arena who know they won’t be in the front of the pack. Those in the rear swimming their hearts out, terrified of that tide that will turn before they finish. I had those very same shared fears last year and I will have them again on Saturday. It is guaranteed that the river will always give us what we need, not necessarily what we want.

So I guess that is what I wanted to say about Stage 6. It is a long, long swim in one of the most beautiful rivers in one of the most gorgeous places on earth organized and populated with some of the greatest souls in the world. It is never the same swim. Each year the river presents the precious lesson that man is not in control. It is fun and it is frightening and yet we do it every year. And here is a sweet little gem of a quote by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. If you are reading this and have run out reasons; run out of dreams … cut this out and tape it to your mirror. Find that sea you have been wanting to cross, grab a friend and jump in. I promise it will be the most terrifyingly wonderful feeling in the world!

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” Rabindranath Tagore, 1861-1941

Grace breaks the Catalina Chanel Record

2012 8 Bridges winner and record holder Grace Van Der Byl broke  Karen Burton’s 18 year old record when she swam across the Catalina Chanel in 7 hours and 21 minutes in October. Congratulations Grace!

Grace has been nominated for open water swimmer of the year for 2012. You can vote for her here.

Bannerman’s Return Tour (Test 2)

Last Saturday we did a second test swim of the Cold Spring – Bannerman’s Island 10.5K Return.

Bannerman’s with Caitlin, Ethan and Terry. Photo credit Capri

This time it wasn’t just me and a kayaker, it was a party of people: David and his RIB Agent Orange, three paddlers, and nine swimmers. The idea was to start swimmers of different speeds on the flood tide at different times so we all converged at the island when the tide was slack. Then we’d return to Cold Spring on the ebb. The swim was calculated to take between 2.75 and 4 hours depending on swimmer speed.

As we motored down the river in AO, I was surprised how rough the water was in the Hudson Highlands where we would be swimming. Flags on poles were barely being lifted by the wind, but the river was full of white caps. The forecast was for winds out of the north at 12 mph; nothing serious but enough to churn the water as it was pushed against the flood current.

Because of the head wind we started the four waves of swimmers 10 minutes earlier than planned. As soon as we got out of the seclusion of Cold Spring and into chop it was clear we should have all started at least 30 minutes earlier. The head wind negated any tidal push. In fact we were crawling along while getting pushed backwards.

John who was paddle boarding beside me had a pretty rough time in the bounce and retired after a few miles. I wish at that time we had tied the board to one of us and swam together as we had planned to do after we got to the island.  I joined another group of swimmers: Janet, Hannah, Eli, and Willie with Andy kayaking. It was great fun swimming with so many friends, taking feed stops together and having a chat while doing so – feeding is slow with four swimmers and one kayaker. It helped that the water temps were in the mid-70s.

We reached the Island after two hours and had to push hard to make our way around it as the ebb current had started 30 minutes earlier. Once around, the water calmed down and we leisurely swam back to Cold Spring with some more chatting and scenery stops. Capri, beaten down by swimming against the ebb current below Breakneck ridge, had gotten out, so Gary, her kayaker, joined our group and Eli, Willie, and I went on ahead. We finished in 3 hours 20 minutes.

Gary. Photo credit Capri

I was happy that Caitlin and Ethan also made it around the island. They had to battle a stronger ebb as they were about 45 minutes behind us. They completed the swim in 4 hours 20 minutes.

The swim certainly didn’t pan out as planned, but there were some good things we learned in the process.

  •  It’s really fun to do this swim with a group of friends, with ample chatting and scenery breaks. This has to be one of the most scenic parts of the Hudson. So why not make this swim a tour rather than a race. Swimming for speed is permissible of course. On the other hand you can take stops, say at little Stony Point, an inviting sandy beach half way to the island, and at the island itself where there is a great ruin that looks like an ancient castle.
  • The flood tide between Cold Spring and the island is weak and unreliable in moderate winds. This requires more investigation but probably means getting swimmers to the island with plenty of time before the ebb begins.

In light of all that we plan to offer the inaugural Bannerman’s Island Return (Tour) on September 1, 2013 or Labor Day weekend Sunday. So mark your calendars!

John and Agent Orange at Cold Spring. Photo credit Capri

Some links from the swim:

Janets blog write up

Flickr photos and videos (below) from Capri:

Ethan and Caitlin – heading to Bannerman Island
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyROfcTow2U

yes! Caitlin and Ethan – make it to the north side of Bannerman Island
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4O5ZdOmtEo

Caitlin and Ethan pass Breakneck
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gotcgkjsWH8

Bannerman’s Island 10K

Inspired by the pioneering efforts of my swim buddies who ventured the 20 miles across Cape Cod Bay this week, today I tested a new swim in the Hudson: Cold Spring to Bannerman’s Island return, a super scenic 10.5K trip timed with the changing current, so you swim north to the island on the waning flood and south on the ebb. This is a destination well known to kayakers, but I am not sure it has been swum before.

Swimming  through the Hudson Highlands toward Bannerman’s Island.

Neither direction offers a lot of tidal assistance since the swim is timed around the slack tide. However, I was about 30 minutes late to start this morning so the tide was turning when I was only half way to the island. The island generously offered a tidal shadow, with the tell-tale debris patches, which I hid behind until I had to venture out into the current to get around the island. At a leisurely pace it took a 1hr 40 mins out and 1 hr back. The conditions were calm and great for those of us with cold blood — water temp was 82˚F!

The ruins of Bannerman’s Island arsenal

Heading back to Cold Spring

Grace’s thoughts on 8 Bridges

By Grace Van Der Byl

Life is funny, as soon as you think you’ve got it all figured out and you have done all you can do with what you’ve been given; life throws you an opportunity to do more. You can take on the challenge or you can let it pass you by.

When I decided to take on all of the 8 Bridges, I had no idea that it would be such a defining moment in my life. The experience was everything I had imagined and so much more!

Stage 1, I showed up to the dock with no idea what to expect. I kept to myself while I got ready away from the group. In typical So-Cal fashion, I had on my board shorts, flip flops, surf shirt, and a trucker hat. It was obvious to everyone that I was from out of town.  My anxiety was nearly a 10 when I jumped into foreign waters, racing a distance further than I had ever gone before. Once into the swim, I settled down and started to enjoy the river.

Stage 2, like stage 1 was also uncharted territory for me in distance but I found myself so focused on the sights that I forgot about the how far I was swimming.

Stage 3 seemed to go by so fast that before I got my head around the swim; we were already at the bridge.

Stage 4 was one of my two favorites. There were beautiful cliffs, an island with a castle, Monistaries, trains, and when Rondi and I swam past West Point, they shot their cannons for us!

Stage 5 was a beast!! Rondi and I swam together for half of the swim. It was really nice to have company while we were swimming against the current in warm water. On this stage the river widens and it is massive!!! I was so focused on my kayaker that I didn’t notice until I stopped for a feed and peeked around us. I was gobsmacked by the size and the amount of traffic on the water. Captain Greg of Launch 5, David Barra on Agent Orange, and Buddy on the rib kept us all so safe that  I never considered what was out there a threat.

Stage 6 was supposed to be a super fast stage but Mother Nature decided otherwise. Even with the crazy conditions it was a blast!

Stage 7 was unimaginable! The conditions had smoothed out from the day before, so that definitely helped make it fun. However, the feeling I got when I swam past the Statue of Liberty made any hardship I had faced totally worth it.

The 8 Bridges Hudson River Race is the most awesome marathon event that I have ever had the privilege to participate in to date. Swimming in the river that built America, racing in conditions that are unpredictable and challenging, the opportunity to see a stunningly beautiful part of the country from a unique perspective, and most importantly meeting new friends that will last a lifetime!! Thank you so much Dave, Rondi, Margrethe, Captain Greg, Lisa, Clare, Riverkeeper, Bridge Authority, Scenic Hudson, and everyone else that I didn’t mention but was there, for the experience of a lifetime!

GP

We finished! 7 days, 7 stages, 120 miles

Today it’s hard to believe it’s all over. It’s certainly going to take a few days to digest the events of the past seven days. Right now I’m feeling somewhat stunned about all that just unfolded in the past week, and a mix of bliss and indebted gratitude to the amazing group of people that came together to make 8 Bridges happen. From the boaters, particularly Greg Porteus and his daughter Amanda and son Buddy on Launch 5; to the kayakers, particularly Pat, Terry, Margrethe, Steve, Gary, Rosanna and Suzie; the 24 swimmers who worked so hard, were so focused, and also jazzed about their swims; Lisa Neidrauer for coordinating the kayakers, feeds, swim logs and finisher videos day after day; Janet Harris for coordinating boat loading for Stage 7, swimmer escort support, and all the ginger cookies; William Miller for all the help with Agent Orange; Tara Sullivan and the NYS Bridge Authority for transporting us all over the Hudson Valley; sponsors Blueseventy, Keen Footwear, and Gu Energy Labs. It was an incredible team effort. Thank you everyone!

Lisa Neidrauer coordinating kayakers and swimmers on Launch 5

For yesterday’s Stage 7 the weather gods were overly generous and completely made up for the harsh head-wind conditions of Stage 6. We motored to the George Washington Bridge in calm waters under sunny skies with a gentle tail wind from the northwest. A last minute discussion between the boaters and race directors had the swimmers splashing on the New Jersey side of the river. Here swimmers could be also be protected from the flood while waiting for the tide to turn. In addition, we found that the flood was weaker here than the Manhattan side of the river. It also meant we didn’t need to cross the shipping lane once the ebb kicked in — a win-win-win situation.

Martin and Amanda splashed at 8:30 am followed by John at 9 am, and Patty, Grace, and myself at 9:30 am. The tide was scheduled to turn after 10 am but we felt the push of the ebb almost immediately and made good headway down the Hudson. I reached lower Manhattan after about 2.5-hours of swimming and the Statue of Liberty around 3-hours. With the staggered start swimmers converged on the harbor about the same time which made it easier for the boaters to protect us.

Grace swimming past the Statue of Liberty. Photo credit Greg Porteus.

I’ve never swum past the Battery in such calm conditions; at times the water was glassy flat. With Gary and the Osprey at my side I felt safe and protected from the mayhem of water taxi’s, ferries, yachts, boats, and helicopters. I learned later that as I swam blissfully through the harbor, our boaters and two ribs were aggressively directing boats and ferries out of our way.

I visited Amanda and Martin during the swim, sadly this was the only time I saw Amanda yesterday as we were on different boats. Martin, having just become a US citizen, was stoked to swim by Lady Liberty.

We flew through the upper harbor toward the Verrazano-Narrows at over three knots. I was sad the swim was coming to a rapid close and was disappointed when feed times arrived because it meant another half hour had passed.

The Riverkeeper boat paid a call south of Bay Ridge. As I was swept by I heard Captain John Lipscombe, my hero, call out his appreciation for what we are doing for the rivers. This brought an unexpected rush of emotions, more so than finishing the swim. The Riverkeeper folks then motored off to test the waters of the Gowanus Canal at low tide. We got to catch up again with Capt. John last night as we grouped for a celebratory dinner in Ossining and saw photos of the Gowanus’s disgusting pollution.

The Riverkeeper boat visiting us en route to the Verrazano Narrows.

Meeting up with Captain John Lipscomb of Riverkeeper with David, Grace, John, myself. Photo credit Greg Porteus.

Arriving within 30 minutes of each other, the six of us finished the swim on the Brooklyn side of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, moving out of the best current to keep clear of the large tugs and tankers arriving and departing the harbor through the shipping lane.

Me under the Verrazano Narrows, the most spectacular bridge of them all. Photo credit Greg Porteus.

Grace and I are the first to finish the 120-mile swim, the longest stage swim and marathon swim in the world! It was a complete honor to share this experience with Grace. Not only is she a fantastic athlete, she is grounded, warm, real, courageous, and inspirational. Swimming with her kept me focused on the task and brought out the best in me. Thank you Grace. Grace has set the bar high for future 8 Bridges swimmers. Also a big thank you to David for making this all happen. Dave and I each did our separate thing to organize the event, but David is the one that holds it on his shoulders; he’s incredibly flexible, generous, and stoic in the face of adversity.

Grace and Rondi – all finished! Photo credit Greg Porteus.

It’s a thrill that this years event was such a success. May there be many more 8 Bridges in the years to come.

Stage 7 is here

The final day of 8 Bridges is here and we have a great line up of swimmers:
Martin Turecky from Delmar, NY
John Reagan from Slingerlands, NY
Amanda Hunt from Napperville, IL
Patty Maysent from Solana Beach, CA
Grace van der Byl from Solana Beach, CA
Rondi Davies from New York, NY

This is Martin, John and Patty’s second stage. It is also the final of seven stages for Grace and Rondi!

Swimmers will splash at 8:30 am on the eastern side of the Hudson River and hug the shore for the first two hours to protect themselves from the flooding tide. When the ebb begins, swimmers will cross to the western, or New Jersey, side of the river passing close to Ellis Island and Liberty Island, and will swim under the shadow of Lady Liberty. Swimmers will also have great views of Governer’s Island and the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges of the East River.  The current assist with draw the weary swimmers to the Verazzano-Narrows bridge with a maximum speed 2.7 knots which is significantly faster than we’ve experienced in previous stages. In addition, the Atlantic Ocean mixing with the Hudson’s waters will create cooler (70˚F),  saltier conditions.

Weather conditions include a high of 86˚F and winds from the WNW at 12 mph. This is a tail wind – woo hoo!