Completing the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS) is a feather in any long distance swimmer’s cap and doing a double circuit even more so. However, NYC Swim, the organisation that was responsible for MIMS for many years announced recently that due to several reasons including personal health issues, it would no longer organise swims. Fortunately for swimmers, after a period of uncertainty, other organisations such as Urban Swim and New York Open Water, have stepped up and now stage circumnavigations of Manhattan.
Between 17 and 18 September this year, Christian Jongeneel from Malaga in Spain became one of only a few people to complete a double circumnavigation of Manhattan Island, setting a new record of 20 hrs 15m and 57s in the process.
The swim was organised and supervised by Deanne Draeger of Urban Swim, who says:
“This is quite a story! In a nutshell, the bridge at top of Manhattan was disabled due to a power issue, so we couldn’t take our fleet command boat through. Instead we had to scootch under the bridge with Coast Guard first time and skiff second time so that swim could go on. The UN was in session. We dodged ferries and barges. Christian fought a heart-breaking current on the second loop in the Harlem River in the dark (this part is why there are only around three other people that have succeeded at swim).”
Christian has a long swimming CV and that experience undoubtable helped him continue when many others would have been satisfied with a single loop. He says:
“I decided to attempt this challenge for social commitment where the UN General Assembly is located. Moreover, working in the Vicente Ferrer Foundation, I found out that this Spanish NGO was opening a delegation in another country for the very first time, and the chosen country was the US, so that decided me to plan for an event in the Big Apple.
“As in all my previous challenges, all funds raised will go towards one of Vicente Ferrer’s Foundation programs in India, including access to clean water and sanitation, health care, etc. For this swim specifically we are focusing on a nutritional programme for women with HIV / AIDS, which aims to help improve the risk situation of women in rural areas of Anantapur by providing nutritional and health care. Probably it is not widely known that in India a girl is worse fed than a boy since childhood. The rates of malnutrition and infant mortality are both higher for females than for males. Traditionally we have received a multitude of small donations in our crowdfunding site, and we hope this time we will be successful again in mobilizing enough funds to fully run the nutritional program for women with HIV / AIDS.”
URBAN SWIM planned, organized and handled all logistical and safety aspects Christian’s swim.
“We interfaced with the US Coast Guard, NY Police Department and other on water entities on the day of the event. We provided four motorboats with captains, two kayaks and four kayakers, and myself as Observer,” says Deanne.
“There were three main challenges that we encountered in this swimming attempt,” says Christian. “The most obvious is that the swim was long and we estimated would take around 22 hours. Secondly, night swimming around Manhattan is a complex and dangerous endeavour and required very careful planning. Lastly, there are strong and changing currents that demanded a constant adaptation of my swimming, making this one of the most difficult tests I’ve ever done.”
The timing on any Manhattan island swim is crucial to success as the swim is current assisted in parts but if you arrive at the wrong time and the tide is in the wrong place then those currents work against you. In a double circumnavigation, this timing becomes even more critical.
“We did lots of data analysis and pre planning for the event as well as employing in-the-moment strategies for combatting an unavoidable swim against the current,” says Deanne. “In the end, it was Christian’s courage and grit that won the day. He is truly an exceptional athlete.”
For the record, the water temperature was between 21.5 and 22 degrees Celsius (71 to 72 Fahrenheit) throughout.
Find out more
http://nycswim.com/ (for information on the previous organiser of MIMS swims)
People interested in swimming around Manhattan can contact Deanne directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christian Jongeneel’s swimming CV
o Strait of Gibraltar crossing, 2004
o Strait of Gibraltar two way crossing, 2005
o English Channel crossing, 2007
o Catalina Channel crossing, 2008
o Cook Strait crossing, 2011
o Molokai Channel crossing, 2012
o Gateway to India Challenge, 2012
o Travesia Peniche islas Berlengas, 2010
o Menorca Channel crossing, 2015