Stage 5

What a week it has been so far! We have had perfect weather… hot and sunny mostly as summers in NY typically are. All the swimmers and kayakers and boat crews have exceeded my expectations and I’m so honored by their enthusiastic support of the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim!

For many of the swimmers, the stages they participated in were the longest swims they have ever done… and all against the clock as the unforgiving afternoon flood tide waits patiently for the chance to battle and thwart our progress.

I knew stage 5 (Bear Mt Bridge to Tappan Zee) would likely be the biggest challenge of the week… this statement is possibly premature, as there are still 2 stages to go. Rondi, Janet and I did a test run of this stage with Captain Greg Porteus, and Mates Wayne and Ritchie a few weeks ago, and we fell a bit short… 3 miles of the Tappan Zee. The data gained was useful, and we were able to adjust our plan to give us the best chance for success yesterday.

We all gave it our best shot, and John (who swam yesterday as well) and Tobey (who will be swimming Catalina in a week) both powered their way to the finish. I resigned at about 9.5 hours with .2 miles to go… but my progress was slowed to a rate of <.1 miles/ 30 minutes. It became clear that I would have at least another hour if I was going to make it at all. Knowing that John finished, and Tobey was ever closer satisfied me... the stage was a success, even if my own efforts fell short, and I was able to resign a few hundred yards short of passing through the Tappan Zee's shadow. I will splash today, where I left off... adding a little bit extra to stage 6 and continue the attempt to complete the 120 miles. No Stage 5 ribbon for me, but I'm feeling good physically. We wind down to just 2 swimmers for the next 2 days. This will be much easier logistically, but I will miss the company and camaraderie. It had been a joyus week! I will write up a more detailed report of each stage once Rondi and I have a chance to review and debrief.

8 Bridges

Though my blog has been idle, don’t think that I haven’t been hard at work putting together another mid-life crisis swim season.

8 Bridges will be the first event of the season. I’ve wanted to do this swim for quite a few years, but to be honest, the planning is exhausting and I didn’t have enough knowledge about all the many factors until now. Still, the process of applying for a marine event permit is mysterious, and I’m learning that just filling in all the blanks on the applications is only enough to get in the door… not invited to the table. I did get said application in on time (135 days prior to event) but still need to follow up with a detailed safety plan and a more accurate timeline; especially for the last two stages where we will be swimming through a busy commercial zone.

Rondi has been incredibly helpful and enthusiastic, and we now have an all-star team coming together to provide support and information.
Salme, a grad student at The Stevens Institute, is working on the swim model. We are scheduling a couple of test stages in the spring to check our pace predictions. Most importantly, we need to know if we (mainly I) can cover the distance of each leg during the ebb or if I will have to start earlier and swim against the end of the flood for a couple of hours.

John Lipscomb, captain for Riverkeeper, just gave a talk on the water quality of the Hudson River. Rondi and I attended. I was pleased to learn that most of the problem spots are rather localized, and though is no way to guarantee that we won’t encounter areas of elevated pathogens, we can certainly make some evasive maneuvers that will give us the best odds of traveling through clean water.

I just had a long conversation with Captain Greg of Launch 5. It looks like we have a cracker jack pilot and safety boat! (huge sigh of relief!)

yeah, yeah, yeah…… been swimming too. I attended the OW safety conference in SF. A great event. I didn’t take any notes because they promised to post video of all the discussions on the USMS site, but it was great to see so many old friends and make a few new ones. I didn’t get banned from anything.

I was able (with the help of Leslie Thomas of Swim-Art) to put together a little 5k swim from the Golden Gate to Aquatic Park. Brisk 53 degree water and joined by forumites Robbie D, Chicken of the Sea, Ourswimmer, E=H2O and (non-forumites) Cristian, Nico, Charlotte, Willie + Julie on the boat and 4 kayaks and 2 zodiaks made for a nice pre conference splash.

……and I got to meet Ahelee too!