Manhattan resident and 53-year-old marathon swimmer Alan Morrison has completed a 24-mile swim from Brooklyn Bridge to Steeplechase Pier at Coney Island and then back to the Brooklyn Bridge. The historic route was first swum over 100 years ago. Morrison was swimming to raise awareness of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture.
Morrison set off just north of the Brooklyn Bridge at 10.32am on Sunday 27 September.
“The first leg of the swim from the Brooklyn Bridge to Coney Island went smoothly and quickly according to plan, and took fewer than four hours to complete,” said Morrison. “The return leg, lasting over six hours, was by far the most difficult. The currents in my favour were slower on average than during the first leg, making the second leg last almost twice as long as the first.”
Morrison had timed the swim to take advantage of the effects of the “super moon”. His navigator, geoscientist Dr Rondi Davies, planned the start time based on his average distance speed and the predicted currents caused by the super moon. Her calculations and planning allowed Morrison to finish the first leg of the swim with minimal risk of hitting an adverse current near Norton’s Point – a notoriously tricky spot.
Water temperatures were lower than expected, which caused Morrison some difficulty: “My stomach gave me troubles throughout the entire return trip. The water temperature dropped to 62 F, which was significantly lower than the 70 F water temperature I had expected. Although I normally find water temperatures in the low 60s comfortable for marathon swims, the combination of the colder water and my stomach pain made the swim more difficult.”
Morrison finished the swim in the dark, under a full moon. “The highlight of my swim was the aesthetic joy that comes from a night swim toward the lower Manhattan skyline in all its luminous glory,” he said.
His total swim time was 9 hours, 48 minutes, 48 seconds.
Morrison was swimming in support of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture, the first and largest torture treatment centre in the New York City area.
“The Program provides comprehensive and interdisciplinary medical, mental health, social and legal services to survivors of torture, war trauma and other human rights abuses, and provides such services to their family members,” said Morrison. “Unlike a hospital or food program, the Program’s very existence is not intuitively obvious to potential donors and others who are poised to help the Program and its clients. This fact, together with the compelling mission the Program serves, make it especially worthy of support.”
See also: Alan Morrison completes Captain Webb Swim