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MIMS relay report, conclusion

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Before I got in for my second leg I reviewed where we were on the course with Rondi—she pulled up a map on her phone and showed me the little bend at the top of the Harlem River I would be going through before the turn into the Hudson, and gave me some landmarks to look for. We pulled up beside John and I jumped in and made the exchange. I think I went under 3 bridges quickly—they’re spaced pretty close together in the Harlem—then made the turn into the Hudson. There was more current there than we were expecting, and my kayaker guided me out towards the middle of the river to catch as much of it as we could. I could see the George Washington Bridge up ahead in the distance.

I could see a swimmer coming up on my right seeking the same fast-moving water we were, and I suspected it was Evan. He pulled even with me, and I tried to keep up with him for as long as I could, which wasn’t long. It was nice to see another swimmer I knew near me, and I was glad to see he looked strong. The water had just gentle rolls here, and I had a nice stretch of just stroking along and enjoying the river. I was feeding every 30 minutes on this leg, and was glad to have those breaks to mark the passing of time. My arms were definitely feeling fatigued by this point, but it was mesmerizing just to keep turning them over and watch the river go by.

The rest of this leg went by pretty uneventfully. I could see several swimmers in closer to shore, but they seemed pretty far away from us (the river is very wide at this point.) As we approached Riverbank State Park the water started getting choppier, and the going a bit tougher, but by then I was almost done. I was glad to see John up on deck getting ready to make his second splash, and happy to hand over the rest of the swim to him.

Once again, John immediately began making up ground on swimmers ahead of us in a big way. I enjoyed sitting in the boat, eating my sandwich, talking with Rondi, and just relaxing as I watched the rest of the race unfold. We could still see Evan in the distance, but we weren’t gaining on him. He looked like he was swimming really strong down the Hudson, and maybe even catching up to the race leaders. We passed another swimmer from our wave, Sarah Thomas, whom we had traded places with several times during the day, and then went by another (I think Spanish swimmer Miguel Suner.) As we approached the cruise ship terminals we could see a vessel powering up to pull out of port. We were hoping swimmers would not need to be pulled to accommodate their schedule. It was a bit before 4pm, and the two ships I had seen arrive that morning were scheduled to leave that afternoon at 4 and 5. (If there are swimmers in the ships’ path, the boat captains take GPS readings, get the swimmers out of the water, then return them to the same position once it’s safe to do so. Rondi explained to me that even swimmers who were not anywhere near the ships would have to get out then get back in if orders to do this came through.)

We saw the first ship pull out while we were north of the terminal, and then we were able to make it past the terminal before the second was slated to depart. From what we could make out of the race ahead of us, it looked like Erica was in the lead, John van Wisse a bit further back in second, and Evan and Ollie close together in a battle for third. Meanwhile, Sarah Thomas was swimming very strongly—she had never fallen far back once we passed her—and was coming up beside us. She looked great, and it was really inspiring to see her swimming so strong after 7+ hours in the water. I cheered as she went by. She seemed to be making up ground on the swimmers ahead of us as well, but it looked like she would run out of river before catching them.

As we neared the end of the race all swimmers were given instructions to move in closer to shore. The second cruise ship was able to pull out and go to the outside of swimmers without disrupting the race. We cheered on John as he made his way to South Cove, where the race begins and ends. We got as close as boats were allowed, watched as the three swimmers nearest us finished, then saw John reach the ladder that marks the official end. Our boat captain blew his air horn in salute, then we had to head back upriver towards North Cove to unload the boat while John got out, retrieved his checked bag, and got a massage and snack while waiting for us to walk down to the finish.

Docking and unloading took a while, so I was really glad once we got we found John and I could give him a big hug and high-five. We hung around in the finish area for awhile, and I was able to congratulate swimmers who were done and cheer for others as they came in. I also got to finally meet Amanda (Chicken of the Sea)—she had been the race observer on Erica’s boat. We had cupcakes left from the day, so I iced and sprinkled the remaining ones and gave them out to anyone who looked hungry (yes, they were a hit!). Finally I headed over to the post-race dinner with John, Rondi, and Dave, who had been zooming around the course all day as a safety-boat race observer. My husband came and joined us, and it was nice to just sit with friends and relax as we waited around for awards.

We were the top relay, with a finish time of 7:36:34. That put us about 7 minutes behind race-winner Erica Rose, who had a comfortable 4-minute lead over John van Wisse. Evan used his strong swim down the Hudson to finish in 3rd, just 10 seconds ahead of Ollie. Sarah was fifth overall and second woman—she finished 14 seconds ahead of us. Full results are here. It was a great day on the water, with everyone who started the race finishing. There were a lot of triumphant and exhausted people at the dinner! NYCSwim did a great job with the swim, and the more I learn about what all is involved in putting it on, the more I’m impressed and amazed by how smoothly everything went.

Many people asked me right afterwards if I have plans to do this race solo next year. That’s something I don’t yet know. On the one hand, the idea of being able to swim for 8+ hours seems more imaginable than it did before. On the other, I now have a healthy appreciation of how tired I am after just swimming 4! It’s also hard to imagine how swimming it solo would be an even better experience than I had swimming it with John—it was really fun to switch out being in the water and on the boat with Rondi throughout the day. If nothing else, this experience has given me some more insight into the kind of longer swims that might appeal to me in the future.

I followed up the race with a very mellow day on the beach Sunday with the CIBBOWS gang plus out-of-town visitors. I got to chat a bit with Evan and hear his perspective on the day, then talked about some other ow races and swims that he’s done or is intrigued by. (All weekend I asked the many experienced OW swimmers I met about what really beautiful swims they had done, and got a nice array of answers—there’s a lot of wonderful places to swim in this world!). I swam with Amanda, did some ocean IMs, then a bit of beach synchro with her and a couple of CIBBOWS buddies. My arms and upper back were a little sore, but nothing hurt, and it felt really good to swim and wiggle around in the clear cool water and loosen up. On the train ride home I felt blissy and peaceful, and really really happy with my weekend of swimming.

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  1. qbrain's Avatar
    I have to think that the relay sounds more fun than the solo swim, but probably the most fun would be observer

    Very awesome and congrats. Your 1 and 2 millisecond swims really prepared you for MIMS. I hope the Waikiki Roughwater was on the beautiful swims list, although it is more of a sprint for the MIMS crowd.
  2. Speedo's Avatar
    Nice job- sounds like a fantastic experience. I cannot fathom doing something like that. Congratulations!
  3. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by qbrain
    I have to think that the relay sounds more fun than the solo swim, but probably the most fun would be observer

    Very awesome and congrats. Your 1 and 2 millisecond swims really prepared you for MIMS. I hope the Waikiki Roughwater was on the beautiful swims list, although it is more of a sprint for the MIMS crowd.
    Thanks Q! People did certainly rave about swimming in Hawaii--the water clarity's great, there's all sorts of wildlife to see, and the water temp is very comfortable. You're going to have such a fun time there!
  4. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Speedo
    Nice job- sounds like a fantastic experience. I cannot fathom doing something like that. Congratulations!
    Thanks Speedo!
    (And I couldn't fathom doing anything of the sort this time last year, either!)
  5. aztimm's Avatar
    Great report! Sounds like you really enjoyed the race (and it was a good race too). And weather cooperated too.

    I agree with Q, a relay of this sounds much better than solo.

    Did you see much sealife? How was the water visibility?
  6. Water Rat's Avatar
    Really cool. Congratulations.
  7. qbrain's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by swimsuit addict
    You're going to have such a fun time there!
    At least before and after the swim
  8. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by aztimm
    Great report! Sounds like you really enjoyed the race (and it was a good race too). And weather cooperated too.

    I agree with Q, a relay of this sounds much better than solo.

    Did you see much sealife? How was the water visibility?
    Yes, the weather was pretty perfect--warm but not hot, with some cloud cover. I didn't get sunburned at all.

    There are 4- and 6-person relays as well as 2s. We kept on trading back and forth with one 6-person team that seemed like a floating party all day long!

    Visibility was ok--I could see my arms very well as I stroked along. I didn't see any sea life, but I touched a few jellies. No seals in sight--although I enjoyed imagining one swimming along beside me as I came down the Hudson! In the absence of real seals, I guess imaginary ones will have to do.

    Quote Originally Posted by Water Rat
    Really cool. Congratulations.
    Thanks! It was an amazing day!
  9. swimmerb212's Avatar
    Thanks for the re-cap, and congrats on your swim! It would be a really cool one to do solo some day, but it sounds like you did it in the most enjoyable way --- with cupcakes!
  10. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by swimmerb212
    Thanks for the re-cap, and congrats on your swim! It would be a really cool one to do solo some day, but it sounds like you did it in the most enjoyable way --- with cupcakes!
    Thanks Carolyn! Cupcakes definitely make anything more fun!

    Are you heading up to Middlebury this weekend? (I've gotten behind on my blog reading.) If so, good luck, and have a blast!