Swimming Groupie

The same evening that I discovered the article about Rose’s 8/13/1911 swim (back in September 2009), I learned that a guy planned to swim from Coney Island to Manhattan two days from that very evening!  Here is an excerpt from my blog “The Manhattan Mermaid” about this event:

“I go to South Street Seaport to watch the guy who is swimming from Coney Island to Manhattan arrive at Pier 14. He is supposed to get there between 5 and 6. I arrive a little early, go to the end of the pier, and see him and his boat coming in from the direction of the Brooklyn Bridge. I am the sole spectator. Guys on the boat start cheering, so do I and, and so do a couple of other bystanders who have no idea what this guy is up to. He swims up to the dock directly below where I’m standing, hits the piling with his hand, stops his watch, waves up to me and heads back toward his boat.

(I find this gesture…the simple “tap” of the piling to acknowledge the completion of an amazingly difficult journey…very moving.  No roaring crowds, no medals, no “you are an Ironman!”….just a simple, personal acknowledgement of a highly unusual, hard won goal achieved. )

The boat pulls in to the dock around the corner. I go over and wait outside, asking the boat guys questions. They give me the scoop: smooth sailing – about 4:20 time for about 12 mile swim – couldn’t cross over straight from Governor’s Island, had to stay along Brooklyn coast and sneak over out of lane of rush hour boat traffic.

A few minutes later, swimmer, wife and daughter come ashore. I introduce myself as “fan”, and congratulate him on his inspiring feat. He and family invite me to join them for celebratory drinks. I accept.

As we are waiting for service, friends of swimmer begin to show up. They are sorry to have missed his arrival (he was early), offer their congrats, and join us for drinks. We talk swimming (one of the folks had also been at the Hudson River 3 mile swim) and I innocently ask the group what swims they have planned next.

Man of the hour at the table says to another. “Go on. Tell her about your secret swim.” This comment is addressed to a woman who has (among other things) done three English Channel crossings (is planning on attempting a double soon) and MIMS this year in 5th Place, second female after the woman who was second overall. She says lightly that she is planning to swim clockwise around Manhattan. I say that as far as I know, no female has done that before – that the woman that tried it this June failed. She said yes, that woman tried and failed, and that the organizers that had planned the swim for that woman had called her and asked her if she wanted to give it a try. She said yes, and planned to start her swim up in Harlem at 1 AM or so a few days later.

That Friday (9/18/09)…SHE DID IT!!!   The first woman EVER to swim around Manhattan, CLOCKWISE!

I followed the tweets all night long.  I was fortunate enough to be able to watch her complete her swim, and congratulate her in person afterward.

(Wow…such amazing accomplishments…such modesty….I am in awe!)”

  1. #1 by JCMalick on July 21, 2011 - 11:05 am

    I don’t know why but I didn’t read far enough into the first paragraph…the whole while I thought this was a memoir of Rose! Then I went back and saw that it was a few days from when you discovered the swim in 2009 and put two and two together!

  2. #2 by ddraeger on July 21, 2011 - 11:17 am

    Yes – the two stories – hers and mine – get a little blurred in my head sometimes too. ;)

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