Brooklyn Bridge Swim

On July 20, I took part in the NYC Swim Brooklyn Bridge Swim. The swim was a 1K swim from the Manhattan side of the bridge to Brooklyn. Because of construction and current, the time got pushed back, and on race day the time was pushed back even more, with the 11 am race letting off around 25 minutes late.

It was a pretty chill event but the timing is significant, because the complex race logistics of crossing a channel means predicting current and dealing with it during the race. I was on the second of three water taxis used to ferry swimmers from Seaport to the race start. We jumped in – I was in wave 8 of 12 – and made our way casually to the starting buoys. When the gun went off, each wave swam up from the Brooklyn Bridge to the Manhattan Bridge, and then across from the Manhattan Bridge to Brooklyn, pretty much in the shadow of the Manhattan Bridge. 


There was no noticeable current, until the final third for me. I stopped a few times during the swim to check out the views – a true WOW moment – and found the swim enjoyable. In the final third, the current seemed to be pushing me up, away from the finish. I felt it stronger, and I had to swim south once I made it across, instead of making it directly to the finish in a straight line. 

I exited, not knowing my time or place. I got my back, changed, and waited. I was curious about the winners and wanted to watch the rest of the people come in. I waited. No one. I thought I couldn’t have been that far back – people should have been finishing well after me with the third boat jumping off after me. 

A rescue boat pulled up with a dozen people on it, and they got out in the water and swam up to shore. Then another. And another and another, until about 100 people came in on boats. One swimmer said the current took him near the Williamsburg Bridge. IMG_7358

Sad, as this was the last time NYC Swim will do the Brooklyn Bridge swim. And yet, I understand why. It was a complicated race to pull off. I am glad I had the opportunity to participate in its final time. 

By the numbers
Temperature: 80 degrees, feels like 80
Temperature in wetsuit: 125 degrees
Posted start of race: 11 am
Actual start of race: 11:28 am
Number of participants: about 300
IMG_7349Number of participants in a wetsuit: about 25 + me
Times I stopped to look at view: 3
Times I stopped because I freaked out: 0
Times I adjusted my goggles: 1

Distance: about 1K
Distance this race felt like: about 1K
Coffees drank before: 1
Honey Stinger waffles ate before: 1
Honey Stinger waffles I wish I had: 10
Post race food: grapes

Times I thought, “I hate swimming” since becoming a triathlete: countless
Times I thought, “this is awesome” about this race : at least 17
Number of times I thought I’d ever say a swimming race is awesome: ZERO. NEVER. NONE. 

Winning finish time (no wetsuit) : 15:16
My finish time: 21:35
Pace: ?

Gender place: ?
Overall place: 101 of 214 finishers
Number of people who didn’t finish: about 100?

Number of swimming races I will be signing up for in the future: anything is possible now!

Pool session

I’m feeling good in the pool – did 3300 meters today, and could have done more. I think the key next step to my swim is checking form. I keep a running checklist of things to do while I swim (people ask what I think about during races: in the swim, I’m always thinking about swimming), but I know that form slips over time. And then I see some other folks in the pool, flailing arms and major imbalances in their strokes, and wonder exactly how far off my self image is to reality for my own stroke.