Todd had agreed to coach me and train me in my swimming starting January. My goal of course, being Triathlons. During all this training Todd discovered NYC Swim, a group that organizes open water swims in the waters surrounding Manhattan. He decided we need to do a few of these swims, and he being my coach, I couldn’t refuse.
Our first race (and our first open water swim) was The Great Hudson River Swim, a 1.3 mile race from Christopher Street to the Battery Park Marina.
The night before Todd, Ila, and I went out for pasta and some wine, heading home early and getting to sleep by 11.
It was beautiful out the next day, highs reaching 70 degrees. The water temperature however, was a mere 60 degrees, very cold. We arrived on-time and checked in, getting our swim caps, tracking chips, and race numbers. We lounged in the grass until it was time to swim. We lined up according to our numbers and one by one jumped in the soup staying behind a set of start buoys. The minute I hit the water my hands and feet went numb (Todd and I had on wetsuits) and we treaded water for ten minutes until the first heat sounded.
As we set off I let the faster swimmers take off, as I was a rookie at this point and wasn’t sure of how I was going to do. Immediately I was having trouble. It was the cold, every time I put my face in the water to begin my form, it was like plunging into and ice bucket. I did some breast stroke to get moving and was really not happy with my performance. In fact, I was ready to quit. It was then I thought about my marathon run and everything leading up to that point. I couldn’t quit, so I plunged in and started doing 2 strokes per breath patterns.
Taking a left out past the first buoy I was now in the current and heart of the Hudson River (aka The North River up until about 1950). I was doing just fine at this point and was getting comfortable with my pace, mostly I think because my body warmed up. The crazy thing about the whole thing is that at no point was I even concerned with drowning. 6 months ago I would have been freaking out.
Halfway through the race I stopped right in the middle of the Hudson. ( I had no intentions of winning this race) I just wanted to really take in the surreal moment of being smack in the middle of the Hudson, looking at Jersey City, and then over to downtown Manhattan.
Pressing onward I really got going. I was back to my 3 strokes per breath routine and moving. At the marina entrance I nearly missed the left turn and could have been swept out into the sea! I had a few swimmers by me making the last 50 yards of the swim which fired me up to really go. We climbed the ladder and were on dry land! My legs were very wobbly. My friends and family were yelling my way and snapped a bunch of photos.
They hosed us off on the dock and I made my way to find Todd to high five him. We had done our first open water swim and it was a great accomplishment.