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Governors Island race report

Rating: 4 votes, 5.00 average.
This morning I did the Governors Island swim. Governors Island is a small (172 acres) island in New York Harbor just a 5-minute ferry ride from the southern tip of Manhattan, and todays race almost circumnavigated it (because of difficult tides/ferries coming and going/air vent for the Holland tunnel, we skip the northernmost tip of the island).



Getting to the race start required checking in, getting a special 6:45 am ferry to the island, walking over to another dock on the island where we were to finish, checking our bags and getting chips, boarding another ferry, riding around the top of the island to the race start, jumping off the ferry, and lining up behind 2 buoys for an in-water start. There were 200+ folks in the race, so it took awhile for everyone to make it off the boat and to the race start, but there was beautiful scenery to look at while we waited. Finally everyone got into the water, they started us, and the race was on!

During the first half of the race we swam down the western side of the island. There were great views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Last year this part of the race had some significant chop and waves, but this year the water was pretty calm, and there seemed to be a slight helping current. As we rounded the the southern tip of the island, we could see the Verrazano Bridge in the distance. Going up the Buttermilk Channel, the only challenge is to be sure to stay away from the 3 piers. On the right is the Brooklyn waterfrontvery industrial, with warehouses and big gantry cranes, which is kind of neat. The finish is right before the Holland Tunnel air vent (that little protrusion to the northeast at the top of the island), and it is easy to missyou actually have to turn left and swim underneath a gangway, before you can see the exit ladder. Last year I overswam it and had to turn back; this year I did a better job sighting and swam right to it.

I was with or near a group of about 7-8 swimmers during the last portion of the race, and worked really hard the last 300 meters or so trying to pull away from them. I got ahead of all but one guy (who obviously had the same idea as me about sprinting to the ladder!) and finished the race as the second woman overall. That surprised me, since there were plenty of women in the field who are better distance pool swimmers than me, but open-water races can be unpredictable that way. (And just for the record, Im thinking of myself as the womens masters champ this year, since the first place woman was just 15!) Overall, this year's race probably had more favorable currents and conditions than last year's--my time was 42:04, compared with 48:06 in 2009. I'm guessing a maximum of 30 seconds of that difference came from swimming the race better.

The highlight of the day was catching up with a number of my open water buddies whom I havent seen all summer. I would have stayed out on Governors Island longer and enjoyed the hammocks post-race, but thunderstorms were threatening. (I did get some hammock time yesterday, when I went out to scout out the race course and when the weather was gorgeous). Chaos was there and won his age group, and I was happy to get to chat with him a bit afterwards. He was on Sharpie duty during race check-in, and incorporated a smiley face into my race number which obviously brought me luck.

One interesting thing that they did during this race was to have a number of Swim Angels wearing different colored caps who were designated as helpers/calmers-down for anyone having anxiety or distress in the water. They basically just hung out in the water and made sure people were comfortable and happy, gave directional/sighting advice, etc. I think this is an idea borrowed from triathlons. They also had some volunteers on land doing the same thing before the race.

Tomorrow we head off to Lake Placid for a few days, and Ill get to swim in one of my all-time favorite swimming spots, Mirror Lake.


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Comments

  1. aquaFeisty's Avatar
    Congrats on your #1 Female Masters finish, SSA!!!

    Love your description of the race. Sounds like a beautiful race and a great way to start the day. I've been a swim angel at triathlons before... it is very rewarding (and also sometimes a tad disturbing when you have someone who TRULY can't swim). That's a good idea to have at swim races where you might get a wide range of abilities. Heck, I'd like a swim angel to swim alongside me at Big Shoulders to provide distraction for any marine life that might be eyeing me...
  2. aztimm's Avatar
    That sounds like a wonderful swim, and I also loved your description of it! Congratulations on being the top woman finisher!!!

    So last year I took the Staten Island Ferry, wouldn't it go pretty close to Governors Island? I think we were concentrating on the other side of the boat, looking at the Statue of Liberty. I couldn't believe that it was free to take the ferry. I did it with my Mom, and we pretty much just got off, walked to a deli in Staten Island to get sandwiches, then took the ferry back, eating our sandwiches on the ship.

    How was the water temp today?

    I'll have to plan a trip to NYC and do one of these swims sometime, they sound like tons of fun.
  3. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by aquaFeisty
    Congrats on your #1 Female Masters finish, SSA!!!

    Love your description of the race. Sounds like a beautiful race and a great way to start the day. I've been a swim angel at triathlons before... it is very rewarding (and also sometimes a tad disturbing when you have someone who TRULY can't swim). That's a good idea to have at swim races where you might get a wide range of abilities. Heck, I'd like a swim angel to swim alongside me at Big Shoulders to provide distraction for any marine life that might be eyeing me...
    Thanks! The swim was a ton of fun.

    I could have used an angel myself at one point when I scooped up a plastic shopping bag on one armstroke. Of course I assumed it was a giant jelly and nearly jumped out of the water!
  4. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by aztimm
    That sounds like a wonderful swim, and I also loved your description of it! Congratulations on being the top woman finisher!!!

    So last year I took the Staten Island Ferry, wouldn't it go pretty close to Governors Island? I think we were concentrating on the other side of the boat, looking at the Statue of Liberty. I couldn't believe that it was free to take the ferry. I did it with my Mom, and we pretty much just got off, walked to a deli in Staten Island to get sandwiches, then took the ferry back, eating our sandwiches on the ship.

    How was the water temp today?

    I'll have to plan a trip to NYC and do one of these swims sometime, they sound like tons of fun.
    Yeah, the Staten Island Ferry goes between Governors Island and the Statue of Liberty, so if you were looking at the statue you might have missed the island. I remember the first time I rode the Staten Island ferry--when Governors Island came into view just a couple of minutes after we left Manhattan, I mistook it for Staten Island, and was really disappointed that the ride would be so short! Then we kept on going, and I've been intrigued by that little island we passed ever since. I was glad when they opened it up to the public a few years ago (the ferries to it are also free, which I agree is really cool).

    The NYCSwims are great--they're well organized, and give you a unique view of the city. I've done the one around Liberty Island and the one across the Brooklyn Bridge span, and they are both really amazing, but too short. The Governors Island swim might be my favorite.

    The water temp today was about 78, and the air temp also close to that. It was very comfortable.
  5. gigi's Avatar
    Congratulations on a great swim! It certainly lived up to the description you gave of it a while ago - what a great event...
    When I was a kid (early 1970's) we used to go to the Lake Placid Invitational meet and it was my favorite meet of the year. There was a 50 meter course set up between two docks in Mirror Lake and that's where we swam our events...the best of pool and open water!
    Have fun in the brisk waters of Mirror Lake!
    And congratulations again!
    What suit did you wear?
  6. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by gigi
    When I was a kid (early 1970's) we used to go to the Lake Placid Invitational meet and it was my favorite meet of the year. There was a 50 meter course set up between two docks in Mirror Lake and that's where we swam our events...the best of pool and open water!
    Have fun in the brisk waters of Mirror Lake!
    And congratulations again!
    What suit did you wear?
    Hey Gigi, A few years ago I found a postcard in Lake Placid that had a photo of the swimming docks set up for what looked like a LCM course. I asked around town then, and again at the Mirror Lake OW swim for a couple of year running, to see if I could find anyone who remembered if they used to have LC meets in the lake, but could find no one who knew anything. Now I have! Thanks for sharing that.

    The swimming and fishing dock at the public beach at the south of the lake are still set up parallel to each other about 50M apart, so it looks like they could still stretch lane lines to make a LC "pool" if anyone were so inclined. But the energy now seems to revolve around open-water swimming, with the ironman buoy course set up in the lake all summer long.

    Thanks for your kind words on my swim. I ended up wearing a Tyr competition suit from the late 90s. It was plainer than my usual get-up, just navy with a subtle striped pattern. I chose it because it didn't have a liner. The harbor tends to be silty, and it drives me crazy when my regular suit linings get all dirty and won't come clean.

    Here's a picture of me in the suit jumping off the water taxi that a friend just emailed me:



    (All our hordes of swim fans are in the background getting ready to watch the race start!)
  7. pwb's Avatar
    Looks like a definite race to do. I'm thinking I'll have to plan my summer 2011 business travel quite strategically to be in / near NYC around key races like this.
  8. pendaluft's Avatar
    I enjoyed reading your description of the swim.

    The Governor's Island swim was my first NYCSwim event and I loved it. I thought the water was perfect (and pretty clear to my surprise). And everyone was helpful and friendly as well as organized.

    Congrats on a great swim!
  9. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pwb
    Looks like a definite race to do. I'm thinking I'll have to plan my summer 2011 business travel quite strategically to be in / near NYC around key races like this.
    I think that's an excellent idea!

    If you need any further proof that this is a really cool race, just watch this video of it:

    [nomedia="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=voqSORLLLVQ&feature=player_embedded"]YouTube- ‪2010 Governors Island Swim‬‎[/nomedia]
  10. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pendaluft
    The Governor's Island swim was my first NYCSwim event and I loved it. I thought the water was perfect (and pretty clear to my surprise). And everyone was helpful and friendly as well as organized.
    I'm so glad you enjoyed it! It's my favorite of the NYCSWIM events.