Saturday morning was the annual Brooklyn Bridge Swim. Over 400 participants (NYC Swim’s largest event) swim under the Brooklyn Bridge to the shores of Brooklyn! It is only 0.7 miles as well, which is in my opinion, an easy swim. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
As Friday approached it was clear that the weather would be questionable for the swim. They do have serious safety regulations and if the current is too strong they have the option of canceling the event.
Rain, rain and more rain. All day. It was chilly as well. Now, in my mind, I do these singular swim events for the love of it, for fun. Unlike running or a triathlon, I know I have no chance of placing or winning for that matter. The lead swimmers in these events are animals, well actually, very graceful animals. My point is, if the weather was bad, I could easily bail on the swim.
After a work event around 11PM Friday night I called my swim coach and friend, Todd, who was doing the swim with me the next morning. He suggested I come stay at he and his wife Ila’s place so we could leave as a team the next day. It was way late and I needed rest so I said I would meet them the next day at the South Street Seaport. This would make it easier for me to bail if I wanted to.
Wow did I want to. Now… I know a lot of my friends are like “oh Baker has so much energy he must never sleep or slow down.’ False… and on this particular grey morning I was really enjoying laying in bed dozing. In my mind I had already given in to not swimming, sleeping was now the follow up event.
8AM: Text from Todd “Looks like this thing is on.”
My response ” Cool. Im not really feelin it though.”
I got an immediate call from ‘Coach Todd’ after my last text…
Backtrack… Todd had broken his collar bone in 5 million places the day after we swam the Park to Park 2 Miler and had been training and getting back into action specifically for this swim.
“Bakes. Dude. So here’s my deal. I’ve been training for this swim ever since I got back into physical therapy. I NEED to conquer this thing. “
Me, “I hear you! Okay cool, Ill get my camera and take pictures of you rockin it out!”
“No, I need you to swim it with me.”
“Ok, Ill be at the Seaport in twenty.”
I would later thank Todd for this pseudo pep talk. Sometimes you just need a little kick in the ass.
Arriving at the Seaport (or just North of it) I could see a few hundred swimmers gearing up. It was on. The buoys were all in place along the bridge and people were so excited. I think I have mentioned before, the swim crew is all fun and good vibes.
I met Todd and we geared up. We wore wetsuits but probably didnt need them. I personally like them because its the closest Ive ever felt to being a superhero or something. The organizer gave us a pep talk and our instructions, then we lined up.
I was number 53 which meant the second heat.
As I stepped out onto the natural beach with driftwood and brown sand I had flashbacks to another time. I am a history buff and this was like candy to me. This beach was amazing and as I stood knee deep, barefoot in the water my feet digging into the sand and shells, I could only think of early settlers fishing right off of this beach. It is something I will never forget.
The horn went off and into the water we went. It felt great as usual. People always ask me about the cleanliness of the water. Earth is a very resilient creature, and its moving bodies of water are constantly adjusting themselves pushing out trash and debris. The water, although dark and ominous, had a taste similar to that of any ocean I have swam in.
As I approached the first pylon my goggles started acting up and the right eye was taking in water. This is such a pain and really hinders getting into the swim zone. As I fixed my goggles a gal I made friends with on the shore (because of my odd mirrored open water goggles, hence her nickname for me) said “Hey Goggles! How ya doing over there?” Like I said, everyone is way cool at these things. “Im good, but my goggles are acting up. How are you doing?” She smiled and said “Slow and steady baby, finding my rhythm. Sorry about the goggles, see you in Brooklyn.”
I moved ahead, but not before looking up at the bottom of the Brooklyn Bridge and thinking “Wow, what a rare view of a majestic creature.” Every few minutes I got in the habit of quickly draining my right eye goggle, making the best of the situation. I was actually moving at a pretty good pace too, my stroke had indeed improved since my Triathlon.
Another product of the Triathlon is that, for the first time I was totally comfortable with other people swimming over me and all around me. Someone even kind of tickled my foot once and I almost lost it.
As we approached the end, I thought to myself, wow, what a good time and great way to start a Saturday. Jumping up onto the dock I ripped my goggles off my face, betrayed by them. I have already began to shop for a replacement pair.
At the hose down station Todd was like 4 people in front of me, we did a celebratory fist pound, we had done it again!
On a sad note… a man, Richard Harley, died from a heart attack mid race. He was 59 years old and an avid swimmer.