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Gerald
September 11th, 2013, 05:56 PM
On Friday, Aug 30, 8:19 am, I was swimming across the Hudson River. I started from Riverside Park, level 75. street, swam across to New Jersey, touched the ground and went back to Manhattan where I landed at the boundary between Hudson River Park and Riverside Park South (level 60. street). Thus the current took me down 15 streets, ie 0.75 miles (1.2 km). For half of the time (approx. 30 minutes) I was exposed to a current with an estimated speed of 1.2 Knots resulting in the aforementioned downdrift of 0.75 Miles. In all I swam a distance of 2 × 0.75 miles = 1.5 Miles (2 × 1.2 km = 2.4 km).

The 2 crossings took me 58 minutes out of which I spent at least 5 minutes watching out for motorboats. Because of the early hour of the day I had only 2 motorboats crossing my way, each at least at a distance of 150 yards. I was very relieved about that knowing that motorboats are the greatest danger to unattended open water swimming.

For those that live close to Manhattan it may not be something extraordinary to swim in the Hudson River, were it not for the fact that I am from Austria visiting the U.S. on a 24 day vacation with my family. We arrived on Monday, Aug 26 in N.Y.C. and our schedule was sooo tight that I didn’t even think about any swim, let alone crossing the Hudson. By Friday morning we had slowed down a little bit from all the sightseeing and shopping so I grabbed the opportunity. Knowing that the most reputable swim races of the world are regularly organized in the Hudson River I felt honored and privileged to immerse myself into it. According to my divng computer the water temperature was 23°C/73°F. The salinity was surprisingly low, but may have been normal for an ebb tide.

After reading all the blogs about the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (M.I.M.S) I had familiarized myself with the treacherous waters I was about to enter, especially the tidal currents. I looked up tide tables from the area: high water was at 5:15 am, low water was due at 11:30 am and my entry time was right in between at 8:19 am. Besides it was halfmoon with neap tides causing somewhat slower currents. All that information helped me a little bit, however I still didn’t know exactly when the current would shift to downstream and how strong it would be.

As I swam towards New Jersey I passed by a huge cargo boat that was anchored right in the middle of the River. Until then there was no current at all but as soon as I approached the boat I noticed a downstream current that made it difficult to pass in front of the bow. Once I passed the ship the current started to take me down swiftly. At this point I wasn’t sure if the current would “stay” on the New Jersey side of the river or if it just started all the way from bank to bank.

Luckily halfway back, as soon as I was again on level with the cargo boat mentioned above, the current slowed down again. By this time I had already drifted 600 yards below the stern of the boat and had a magnificient view at Riverside Park South. I just made it back to shore slightly above Pier 99 (the first Pier downriver on the lefthand side) and landed exactly at a gangway. I didn’t even have to climb over the fence that would normally curtail visitors from the waterfront. I was very relieved that the thing I feared the most didn’t happen: to be arrested by the Police:). A few people observed my “arrival” and responded positively. Now I had to run back up to my starting place at Riverside Park/Level 75. Street, where I left my clothes on a pontoon (with a sign offering free Kayak rentals on weekends). When I squeezed myself between two bars to reach the pontoon a park security officer watched me from his car and asked me why I didn’t simply climb over the top bar. His nice touch rounded up my unforgettable memories of my swim across the Hudson River. Ten minutes later I was back at the Hotel and another 15 Minutes later I was off to Central Park with my son taking pictures.

After spending stressful days in major cities on the West Coast I didn’t even look forward to New York City but I was unexpectedly and surprisingly overwhelmed by it’s charm.

Cheers, Gerald

chaos
September 12th, 2013, 09:46 PM
Gerald,

You’re an idiot for swimming anywhere around Manhattan without an escort.
The thing you should have feared the most was not being arrested, but ending up as an unidentified dismembered corpse.

swimthegoodfight
September 12th, 2013, 10:05 PM
Gerald - I won't be as harsh as Chaos but there are a dozen opportunities for swimming in the greater NYC area including soliciting information at this board. I imagine Chaos would have been happy to host something for you.

chaos
September 12th, 2013, 11:54 PM
Gerald - I won't be as harsh as Chaos but there are a dozen opportunities for swimming in the greater NYC area including soliciting information at this board. I imagine Chaos would have been happy to host something for you.

...thats what I meant to say!

ddl
September 14th, 2013, 01:41 AM
I didn't know you could swim across the Hudson without some sort of permission. Bravo for the adventure! Also glad your clothing wasn't stolen. A lot of Europeans in NYC innocently trust all strangers. A German at our gym left sandals outside the locker and they were stolen--used sandals.

Gerald
September 24th, 2013, 04:24 PM
Thanks, ddl

As I said in my original post, I took advantage of this unique opportunity during my short visit to NYC. The few people that saw me where supportive, including a park security officer from Riverside Park. I hid my clothes skillfully underneath a stack of rental kayaks on the pontoon that I used as my starting point.

As I swim regularly in public areas I have learned how to drop my clothes in a way that people can't find them.


I didn't know you could swim across the Hudson without some sort of permission. Bravo for the adventure! Also glad your clothing wasn't stolen. A lot of Europeans in NYC innocently trust all strangers. A German at our gym left sandals outside the locker and they were stolen--used sandals.

Gerald
September 24th, 2013, 04:35 PM
Chaos,

I take you serious. I knew that it was dangerous.
I am used to swim in waters with boat traffic, however the boats on the Hudson River are much faster and bigger than the boats in European waters. Next time I am in NYC I'll get in touch with you guys.

cheers and greetings from Austria


Gerald, The thing you should have feared the most was not being arrested, but ending up as an unidentified dismembered corpse.

chefster
September 25th, 2013, 12:10 PM
worst tasting water ever!

Keyster
October 8th, 2013, 08:36 PM
Gerald,

You’re an idiot for swimming anywhere around Manhattan without an escort.
The thing you should have feared the most was not being arrested, but ending up as an unidentified dismembered corpse.

I'm a lurker, but I registered just to reply to this. I don't find anything even remotely idiotic about what Gerald did. While his actions are clearly very different from what you (along with, I assume, the vast majority of Americans) view as safe or appropriate, they were not idiotic. Our culture has become so fixated on this idea of safety, that we're now apparently banning ball throwing during recess (http://newyork.cbslocal.com/2013/10/07/long-island-middle-school-bans-footballs-other-recreational-items/). But some people are wired to take risks; to accomplish courageous, bold or even outrageous feats, even at the risk of death or serious bodily injury. Ironically, Henry Hudson was such a man. A man who pushed the envelope of safety to such extremes that his own crew killed him! By today’s standards, we’d call Hudson stark raving mad. But back then, we named major waterways after men like that.

I have (bad?) habits like Gerald. I fly 100,000 miles a year and never travel without my goggles and suit. If there’s a body of water and I have the time, I’m swimming. I just pick a destination point (if I don’t have a map) and go. I get yelled at and lectured by boaters and paternalistic park rangers and cops all the time (more than one tried to argue that shouldn’t swim without a life jacket!!). For 35 the past years I’ve logged hundreds of open water miles in unfamiliar waters and I have never once had an escort.

I’m not disagreeing with your assessment of risk. I’m just saying that some of the most epic hours of my life occurred on these adventures, alone and afraid, and I wouldn’t trade them in for five minutes of safety or security. I acknowledge (as does my wife) that one day I may die at the hands of a drunken boater, but I’ll die doing what I love; a source of great peace and catharsis. To me, there are few things more exhilarating than than standing on a bank of an unfamiliar body of water, terrified and shivering in the darkness before sunrise, knowing that for the next several hours, its sink or swim baby. Pass/fail. And then diving in, overcoming my fear one stroke at a time…

I know that most in our culture (maybe even many on this board) will always label me an idiot. But I am not an idiot, and neither is Gerald. I know what I do is dangerous. I just value different things that you. I asses the risk, and make choices. Choices that many would likely disagree with. Based upon the survival rate of space shuttle astronauts, every one of them are unmitigated lunatics, and yet thousands would take their place in an instant (including me) if given the chance. We need to celebrate our differences; they are what make us great.

Gerald, I salute you brother…

swimthegoodfight
October 9th, 2013, 11:20 AM
MY ISSUE with Gerald's feat is in addition to putting himself at extreme risk, he put others at risk and displayed some level of disregard for his family. It is one thing to expose yourself AND very different to expose others with reckless behavior. As I noted in my response, the places to open water swim proximate are plentiful. Gerald could have challenged himself at the Coney Island beachfront.

swimthegoodfight
October 9th, 2013, 11:26 AM
Gerald chose to go into the water... the rescue, or recovery, team, does not have the luxury of a choice.

Keyster
October 9th, 2013, 04:24 PM
I'll concede this is an issue about which intelligent, informed people can rationally disagree. But at the risk of jumping onto this board as a noob like a bull in a china shop, humor me this: the rescue team/recovery divers chose their profession because its what they like doing. They weighed the risks before accepting the responsibility of their positions. I know a rescue/recovery diver, and he's like a child on Christmas when called for duty. Its where he finds joy and purpose. He publicly bitches and moans about how stupid people are, but privately he's glad they exist or he'd have no use for his shining armor.

Personally, I'm not one of those people who feels entitled to rescue/recovery in these situations. My choice, my consequence. If they do rescue me, God bless 'em! I'd buy them a case of their favorite adult beverage and raise a glass with them and add them to my Christmas card list. But if they chose not to, I wouldn't fault them for it. I don't expect others to put themselves in harms' way (or the taxpayers to foot the bill) because of an admittedly selfish choice I made for my own pleasure, especially if its just a matter of recovery (I'd have no remaining use for the cadaver and is there a better burial ground than becoming part of a reef?). As for my wife, she accepted the risk when she married me (I was a skydiver/base jumper/hang glider/trimix diver/solo OW swimmer when we married) and my family is insured enough to live reasonably comfortable lives without my income. But as for the kids, that's a much tougher issue. They did not chose the risk and I don't want them to grow up without a father, but at the same time, I want to live my life as an example of the values I want them to share (otherwise, who's gonna fight the no-more-football-on-the-playground-naysayers when I'm gone!?). I take reasonable precautions (I almost never swim alone without my ISHOF swim buoy) and I try within reason to swim at optimal times and places, but I'd follow Gerald across the Hudson in a second and swimming along a beach appeals to me about as much as swimming in a pool. I don't court risk for the sake of being risky. I just accept calculated risks when they stand in the way of a worthy objective, mitigating where I can. And for the record, I voluntarily gave up skydiving and hang gliding when my first child was born, so I'm not completely incorrigible.

There are people who would call you and me both foolish for swimming in the open water when pools are plentiful. Its all relative and we are all different.

By the way, I saw your post on the Tex Robertson swim. I'm doing the "Weekend Warrior" (Fri/Sat/Sun) version of that swim. Maybe I'll see you there... I promise to follow the rules and not take any unreasonable risks.:)

chaos
October 14th, 2013, 05:00 PM
I'm a lurker, but I registered just to reply to this.
I’m not disagreeing with your assessment of risk. I’m just saying that some of the most epic hours of my life occurred on these adventures, alone and afraid, and I wouldn’t trade them in for five minutes of safety or security. I acknowledge (as does my wife) that one day I may die at the hands of a drunken boater, but I’ll die doing what I love; a source of great peace and catharsis.

Gerald, I salute you brother…

Believe me, I have absolutely no issue with anyone taking personal risks and you are certainly welcome to play "frogger" with as many drunken boaters as you like. This frolic across the Hudson was poorly researched and such acts are much more likely to meet with a barge or tour boat than a seafaring drunkard. They don't deserve the disruption to their lives that the encounter of a rogue swimmer would impose on them....
So, I guess I should have said "selfish idiot".

swimthegoodfight
October 15th, 2013, 01:46 PM
keyster - I'll see you at the Lake LBJ swim next Friday. We'll catch lunch. Ship channels and marinas are simply not good ideas for rogue swims. I am not at all surprised Gerald completed the swim with no incident but there are so many contingencies beyond the swimmer's control for this rogue swim. You should consider a stage, or more, in chaos' 8 bridges. Let me know in advance... and I might swing a trip north too.

Keyster
October 16th, 2013, 10:38 AM
you are certainly welcome to play "frogger" with as many drunken boaters as you like.

Nice. I'm going to borrow that metaphor if you don't mind...


You should consider a stage, or more, in chaos' 8 bridges. Let me know in advance... and I might swing a trip north too.

Holy cow. At those distances, completing a single stage within the time limit would be a significant accomplishment for me. Is there any current/tide assist on these??

chaos
October 16th, 2013, 05:29 PM
Holy cow. At those distances, completing a single stage within the time limit would be a significant accomplishment for me. Is there any current/tide assist on these??

As Gerald’s swim can attest.... the Hudson is a tidal estuary and the flood can be experienced as far north as Troy.
8 Bridges Stages are timed to take advantage of the ebb. Each stage lists a pretty good estimated pace per mile one will have to maintain to complete the stage before the flood kicks into full force.

We follow a course mid-river to take full advantage of the the currents, and cooperate with the Coast Guard, commercial traffic, and often have support from local marine patrols.

rtodd
October 17th, 2013, 09:57 PM
You have a son and you did that with no escort? Why? Did you wear a "safer swimmer" floatation buoy? Not that big fast moving vessel could slow or turn, but would make recovery easier, especially with I.d.

It's not really swimming accomplishment, more of a stunt.

Ok, an hour swim with 5 min of observation for boats. Let's call it 6 minutes. That's 10%, so every minute of having you head down swimming, only 6 sec to see what is coming.......hmmm

Gerald
December 12th, 2013, 09:21 AM
Dear folks. I would like to thank everybody for your feedback.

BTW: on the picture below you see the starting point of my swim. It is the free Kayak Rental Place (level between 72./73. street):

8174

I hope I will be able to meet at least some of you personally at my next visit.

In the meanwhile I would like to wish you all a merry Christmas.

Cheers, Gerald