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Little Red Lighthouse Swim

Thanks to Simon for sharing his account of his recent ‘Little Red Lighthouse Swim’ Hudson Rover, NYC, 22 Sep…

Dear F&A

 I write with beer in hand, reflecting on having recently completed my first 10km (10.2 if you must ask) swim down the mighty Hudson river in New York. 2 hrs 33 total swim time, resplendent (in my opinion) sans wetsuit in ‘kiwi’ branded speedo’s and with a gel pack for the in-swim pep talk and company. Swimmer 208, Wave 3. A summary of events follows…

 Race guidelines were to take your own water if you wanted it. Some of our TBec swim squad members may have seen my ridiculous lido green canvas £3 ‘fanny’ pack (US name) containing a £30 H20 bladder fail to do the job at swim squad 48 hrs out from swim time. Unfortunately, the kiwi no 8 wire ‘can do’ approach didn’t appear to make it to London with me this time. F&A’s last minute offer of the ISHOF Safe swimmer float (as seen on TV and used by swim around the world’s Kate Willoughby) swimmers buddy/float, it was perfect and welcomed. 

 Come race day in New York on the edge of a tan brown Hudson, in the absence of any FAQs and knowledge that there ahead been a pre race web conference (as only the yanks would do that) I noticed a distinct lack of drinking vessels near any swimmers, it appeared through conversation that others were going sans hydration. I had been eating plenty of pizza and hydrating well, so I followed suit. 

 All shapes and sizes were partaking in the 300 strong field. A stunning day on the Hudson, water temp was 20 C, warmer than air at that stage of the morning, a blessing after the frigid TBec Lido. It was perfect.

 I was parched early on and remained that way until the end. I went wide in the Hudson with F&A’s wise tenant of ‘the strong currents are always out in the middle of the river young swimmer’ sharp in my mind, high elbow, calm hands entering the water, nice controlled breathing. It was early and my form was nothing short of Spitz’tacular (self visualisation/delusion was key) 1hr 20 mins later I was thinking about burgers and beers and my style was definitely more Mick Jagger than Mark Spitz. I rolled over at that time and summonsed up a sugary gel. As a true amateur, I gulped in more of the Hudson than I did my gel, my frantic struggle to get the damn thing down the hatch with one eye on swimmers overtaking me. 

 I was now even more thirsty than before. As I took off again my Spitz form returned..I cant believe I ever doubted myself ‘I am an amazing swimmer, sure I swallow lots of water but my arms feel great, my kick the strongest its ever been’ and so the sun beat down down……the swimmer I had been attacking for the last 40 mins was the same swimmer that would never get further or near’er to me, no matter what I changed in my technique. Without naming names, no.171 (go to NYC swim website to see the final race times/numbers/names) was the constant, the irritating constant reminding you ‘that no mate, you aren’t getting any better’ like at swim squad, we all have them, you know who I am talking about. I was happy I wasn’t getting any worse. 

 As we approached George Washington Bridge (circa 9.5km) swimmers were rolling onto their back to look up at the bridge and doing backstroke to take in the view. My backstroke is about effective as a fanny pack on a long distance swim. I pounced on the opportunity to attack no.171 once again. Swearing and inhaling the Hudson all in one glorious moment. Picture your favourite WW2 war movie, with an allied mustachc’ioed pilot (me) & spitfire attacking an enemy destroyer (no 171) from the air. The current, which was allegedly a lot less favourable than in previous years for the first 3/4 of the race kicked in. Up until now, at several stage’s it felt like I was going with a current backward. But not now. The last 1km was the most pleasing/easy ever. The current also meant a lot of swimmers over’cooked landing on the finish line and had to swim back against the current to finish.

 In the soup at the finish line, red cap no. 171 would finish before me. Damn, but good on her. I finished ahead of most of my pod. The leader did it in 1hr 48 (13 others < 2 hrs, of those 5 > 42yr, 12th was 57yr..inspiring) I came in 177 out of 300, 15 DNF. Hard to know truly how good a swim for me it was, I chatted with others and we agreed it was choppy ‘n slow for most of the early to mid section, but super quick at the end.

Thrilled with the result, one yr ago was my first OWS > 3k. One massive burger and a few beers later I slept solidly for a good few hours. Hats off to any swimmer doing anything more or up to a 10k.  I aspire to be one of you ultra distance people! It’s a few days on and I am still in NY on holidays, eating big…fries with everything including salads.

 I am still a swimmer who has plenty of drag creating habits to unlearn. Plenty of work to do yet and plenty of time. Thanks to F&A for the swim squad tuition over the London summer. All the while I have your ‘young swimmer, to swim faster you must swim slower’ ringing my mind. Training continues…

Nb: No illness experienced post passively drinking ghe Hudson, unlike the Bridge to Bridge’

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