This year I took part in another of NYCSwim harbor swims. Last year I did the Statue of Liberty Swim , and this year I wanted to change it up and try the Brooklyn Bridge 1km swim across the East River under/around the Brooklyn Bridge.
NYCSwim changed the direction this year , last year the swim was Brooklyn to Manhattan, but this year due to unexpected construction it would be from Manhattan to Brooklyn. Because the East River is a tidal river the swim start was re-scheduled for just before noon, and our swim course would start on the Manhattan Side of the Brooklyn Bridge, then swim north hugging the Manhattan side of the river bank, till the Manhattan Bridge tower , then swing right and swim across the East River finishing up in Marine Park (part of Brooklyn Bridge Park) on the Brooklyn end adjacent to the Manhattan Bridge Brooklyn-side tower.
NYCSwim does a nice job of documenting their swims with nicely produced video’s check out the video of the 2013 Brooklyn Bridge Swim here.
Arriving early and checking in, then waiting around and chatting with fellow swimmers, we waited to board the water taxi’s (aka ferry) , at Pier 11 that would take us to the foot of the Brooklyn bridge, it was a little wait on the ferry as the harbor police and the race organizers made sure all shipping traffic was clear of the course, then it was time to go.
Hopping in off the ferry, it was 6-7 foot drop from the front of the boat to the water, from there we swam to the start bouy’s that were adjacent to the Manhattan side of the Brooklyn Bridge tower. Treading water we lined up and waited a few minutes then a short horn sounded, and off we went.
I elected to wear a sleeveless wetsuit, while this invalidated my swim for competitive reasons (only speedo type swimming shorts were allowed for this swim) , I was less interested in the race aspect of this swim and more interested in the experience, not to mention, swimming in the East River, being an active shipping lane, poses some water quality concerns, but overall the water was fairly clean.
The weather was perfect, the sunshine and the calm harbor water made it a pure joy to swim, not too mention some of the best views of New York City . While I was not trying to swim fast, I quickly found myself in the front of my wave, I was surprised how fast I was moving, I’m pretty sure the river current and wetsuit had a lot to do with that, plus, we are also seeded by swim capability with the stronger swimmers going out afterwards..
The current was pushing us north so reaching the first turn buoy was pretty fast , then I turned right and started to cross the river. As I started I could feel myself drift North under the Manhattan bridge and had to correct several times, as the current wanted to push us north. But I did a pretty good job of sighting the bouy on the Brooklyn side and swam diagonal to it, so I pretty much hit it on target as I got closer, I could see a line of swimmers that had swum (or were pushed) very far north and just now were making there way back , so good sighting and cross-current swimming made up a lot of time for me.
After the sighting and reaching the last bouy it was just a minute more to the pebble beach and the finishing buoys and crowd, again the finish was fantastic folks cheering you on , sunny weather and just a great festive atmosphere. Took me in the neighborhood of 19 minutes or so… it was a bit faster than I expected considering how little effort I was making..
Afterwards I also could see that some of the later wave swimmers , had really drifted well north of the Manhattan bridge and were really having to swim quite a bit not just East towards the Brooklyn side but South towards the swim exit, yikes, but that’s the current for you.. gotta respect the current…
Afterwards we hung out at the Brooklyn Bridge Park, this waterfront area in Brooklyn has been revitalized and is no longer rusting piers and unused docks, but rather a very nice urban park with lots of activities a great place to spend a day just like today hanging out.
Ironically the car ride back over the Manhattan bridge back to Manhattan took longer than the swim under it… that’s New York traffic for you…
Last NYC Swimming Season 🙁
Sadly it appears that NYC Swim is concluding their short-distance harbor swim series, and this appears to be their final season. This is really too bad, while I only did two of their events, I felt they were well run, and all the participants understand that its a real effort to put on major swim events in one of the world’s cities busiest shipping harbors. Sadly it appears the economics and increased complexity are making these types of activities around big cities even less practical.
So I’m pretty bummed, I’m glad I did the swim this year, but will sure miss the excitement of seeing some of the other of NYC landmarks from water-level view.. Maybe in the future things will change..