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swimsuit addict

First OW race of the season

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This morning I got up bright and early to do the 1.6 mile Great Hudson River Swim. The race start was downtown in village, at Christopher Street, and we finished up at the North Cove Harbor near Battery Park City. It was a warm morning, with a few clouds. Air temps were in the low 70s, and water temps around 63. The river was pretty flat, and the water seemed very pleasant.

The pier was a lovely place to spend the early morning while we waited for the race to start. You can see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, and in the far distance the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Many of my friends from CIBBOWS were there, and I also got to catch up with other area masters swimmers I hadnt seen in a while. Because the race was wetsuit legal, there were also quite a few triathletes and others whose faces I didnt recognize, as well as a group of OW swimmers visiting from Ireland. By the time check-in had ended there was a pretty sizeable crowd of excited swimmers eager to enter the water.

The only real concern I had going into this race was its sizeover 400 swimmers were entered. Crowded starts scare me, plus thats a lot of bodies navigating a relatively short and narrow course. But the race ended up being done with wave starts, which worked out especially well for me. The waves were determined by speed, and I was in the second-fastest wave, out of 6 total. The race director started the waves in the following order: slowest, second-slowest, third-slowest, fastest, second-fastest, and third-fastest. (I dont know, but I suspect the decision to do it that way combined efforts to have swimmers in the river for the shortest time possiblehence the slowest swimmers starting firstwith concerns about course crowdinghence the last 3 heats starting in an order that would minimize the amount of overtaking.) That start order meant that I didnt have to worry about navigating around previous waves of swimmers until I was fairly near the end of the course (the situation was probably worse for those ahead of me in the fastest wave though). Also, since the race was held at the transition from flood to ebb tide, it meant that I may have had more favorable currents than those in preceding waves.

In any case, my fears about crowding were not born out. My wave was a big one (they werent all the same size), but there was plenty of space on the right side at the start, and that turned out to be the best place to be. I passed a couple of wetsuited guys in my heat right after the first turn buoy, but after that I had all clear water all around me for nearly the entire rest of the race. It felt like we flew down the river. There were a few swells now and then from boats, but otherwise the water was flat and the course was very easy to sight and navigate. I felt good in the water and put in a good steady effort throughout. Once I had made the last turn into the harbor, I was able accelerate enough to get around a pack of swimmers in the last 30 yards or so before getting to the finish ladder. I got up the ladder and out the water quickly, and that was that.

There were problems with the timing system, so I have no idea how long the race actually tookit felt like less than 20 minutes, but was probably in fact significantly longer.* They were still trying to sort out results when I leftthey didnt do awards, but that was ok, mostly I had fun hanging out with friends after the race. Plus I got to chat a bit with Evmo from the forums who was in town for the race, and who will be back in June for MIMS. I liked him a lot.

Once again I was pretty amazed at all it requires to organize and pull off an event like this. The Hudson is a busy river, even on a Saturday morning. We had course boats stationed at pretty tight intervals all along the course to keep other boat traffic out of our way, and swimmers out of harms way. Kayakers were also patrolling the course and directing wayward swimmers back on track. And there were tons of volunteers at the start and finish to check everyone in, sharpie race numbers on swimmers (just one of Chaoss jobs today, in addition to swimming), make sure everyone got in the water at the right time, shower us off and hand out medals at the end, etc. NYCSwim did a great job with it allif youre coming to the city this summer, consider one of their races!

On the way back home I stopped by my Y for a quick warmdown swim (1100y) and stretch. Looking forward to some more OW swimming tomorrow!

*It actually took me 28+ minutes. That placed me 17th overall, out of 362 finishers, and 1st woman.

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Updated May 30th, 2011 at 12:20 PM by swimsuit addict (results posted)

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Comments

  1. Bobinator's Avatar
    Sounds like a great swim. Did you just go straight down the river? that seems like it would be great for navigation.
  2. pwb's Avatar
    Sounds like awesome fun and a nice day.

    I got to see some of the backend of what it takes to put on a lake swim a couple of weeks ago and it was a lot ... but our swim was on an uncrowded lake in Arizona. I can't begin to imagine the logistics of OW race organizing in/around Manhattan or other working water thoroughfares.
  3. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Bobinator
    Sounds like a great swim. Did you just go straight down the river? that seems like it would be great for navigation.
    Yes, it was a straight shot down the river, with a little swim perpendicular to shore on the front and back ends to get us out far enough to clear various obstacles (piers, Holland Tunnel air vents, ferry terminal). But we only had maybe a fifth of the river's width to swim in--that's where the safety boats lining the course and providing a buffer between us and the rest of the river traffic were useful.

    Navigation was indeed very easy. There were plenty of buoys marking the course, and I could see them when I sighted forward, but I actually found it easier to just use the boats as a guide, since I could see them while breathing to my favored (right) side. I stayed about 10-15y to the inside of them the whole way, and that worked out well.
  4. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by pwb
    I got to see some of the backend of what it takes to put on a lake swim a couple of weeks ago and it was a lot ... but our swim was on an uncrowded lake in Arizona. I can't begin to imagine the logistics of OW race organizing in/around Manhattan or other working water thoroughfares.
    I learned even more about swimming on a busy river yesterday. It was pretty cool listening to some of the radio conversation between our boat captain and other vessels on the water as he alerted them to the fact that he was accompanying swimmers. There were a lot of boats to keep track of, and his knowledge about where they were likely heading, and how some of the bigger transport containers would need to navigate down the windy parts of the river (and where we should position ourselves to stay out of their way) was invaluable. And apparently the tugboats took an interest in us and our progress down the river!
  5. evmo's Avatar
    Janet, you really had a great swim... 1st woman - congrats!
  6. swimsuit addict's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by evmo
    Janet, you really had a great swim... 1st woman - congrats!
    Thanks Evan! It was great to meet you--hope you enjoyed your post-race dip at Coney Island!