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Remembering The 2010 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim

Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

There were 24 soloists and 11 relays that participated in the 2010 circumnavigation race around Manhattan Island.

Many of the Americans, Australians, British, Spanish, Guatemalan, French, and Canadian swimmers who took part of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim were either already renowned marathon swimmers – or became quite accomplished over the course of their subsequent crossings and swims.

25-year-old Chloë McCardel of Melbourne, Australia went toe-to-toe with 35-year-old Spanish marathon swimmer Jaime Caballero of San Sebastian all day long – alternating in the lead – to nip him by less than 10 meters at the end and win the 2010 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim.

Several of the swimmers recalled their participation in the memorable 28.5-mile (46 km) race.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What do you remember from this race?

Marcia Cleveland: The relay was a lot of fun and I got to see a lot of friends in the open water swimming community. The swimming was pretty easy and our team had matching bathing suits. The water was in the 60s and the air was in the 70s, overcast for most of the day. It was good swimming weather.

Stephen Junk: I remember weather and conditions being good. In previous Manhattan Island Marathon Swims, I have gone out too hard and felt very tired when hitting the Hudson. On this occasion, my swim was more controlled and I felt strong on my swim down the Hudson River. I was even thinking I might be able to reach Chloe, who our crew could see in the distance. This was to be my last marathon swimming before hanging up my Speedos…..I did retire but the draw of ocean swims brought me back to the sport three years later. And I am now enjoying counting down Oceans Seven.

Note: Junk is booked for a North Channel crossing in the August 27th – September 3rd tide which will be his final swim of the Oceans Seven.

Marcella MacDonald: Manhattan was my debut to the 20+ mile swim in 1993. It was so different than it is now; lower key and very supportive. I like the pre-internet race to the entry time…I know I’m showing my age. In 1993, the race was sponsored by a beer company, Amsterdam brewery (that is no longer around), but it was a wonderful day and great party.

Rob Kent: After I didn’t complete my first big marathon swim a few years earlier (English Channel) I wanted to redeem myself…to myself. I was very unsure if I could actually complete it. As it turned out, in retrospect, it ended up being one of my best races and went really well.

Jaimie Monahan: Manhattan Island Marathon Swim 2010 was one of my first marathon swims ever and a very special one to me. Since then I have done so many amazing swims around the world but MIMS ’10 remains a good reminder to appreciate every moment, in the water and out.

Jim Bayles: This was the second time I swam around Manhattan. I did it on my own in September 1999. In that swim, I started at the Columbia University as I had no idea where to start and ended up swimming against the tide for 5 hours in the Harlem River. In the 2010 swim, it was relatively easy.

Kristian Rutford: I wish I would have kept better records of all my swims. 2010 was my 15th lap around the Manhattan Island. The limited notes that I have was that it was still a group start from South Cove which is a nice place to start and finish. The weather was pretty decent and no real issues. This may have been one of my first swims with a kayaker and Lee Murray was my kayaker who did an excellent job. I then wondered why I hadn’t used one in previous years. I am not exactly sure when they became a requirement.

Sakura Adams: The atmosphere for the whole weekend was absolutely awesome. It was great to meet such a strong and fabulous group of swimmers beforehand, all going for food after the briefing, then the atmosphere at the start and the finish. It had an absolutely awesome ‘team’ feeling.

The swim was so exciting. I remember whizzing around Manhattan – a bit too quickly for my liking at the start, going under all the exciting bridges at the start, the less exciting parts of the swim coming up to the Columbia big C on the wall and then turning to face the George Washington bridge that just never came closer until I was swimming under it. And then swimming along the wall at the end coming back to Battery park.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: How did you feel during the race?

Marcia Cleveland: I was enjoying the swim both in and out of the water. I was confident and happy.

Stephen Junk: I felt very controlled with a strong finish. In fact I felt good enough at the end to go for a second circuit.

Marcella MacDonald: I have done five swims around the island, compared to any ‘real’ open channel water. It is easy because you have lots to look at, the buildings (Empire States Building and the World Trade Center in pre-2001 was a blessing to see, 1 mile away from the finish, so it is not boring.

Rob Kent: Nervous and lacking confidence, but I was excited at the beginning. But my confidence grew as I headed up the East River and the Harlem River. Even stronger when I headed down the Hudson River. I was ecstatic when I saw my wife running along the break wall near the finish cheering me in…and when I saw Chloë McCardel doing the same. She had literally won the race and came back to cheer me in. I loved racing Kathrin Raymond for the whole distance down the Hudson, playing cat and mouse…even though she slipped by me when I stopped to wave to my wife and beat me by a few seconds.

Jim Bayles: What I remember most was that my kayakers both needed a bio break and, as I had my boat, I was not concerned. So as I was swimming without escort, the person ahead of me allowed one of his kayakers to drop back to guide me. While not necessary, it was quite nice and shows what kind of swimmers we all are.

Kristian Rutford: At this time in my life, I generally swim this event as a participant and not a racer. I try to swim the same speed start to finish, so it sometimes appears that I start slow and finish a little stronger.

Sakura Adams: I enjoyed every minute to it and loved every stroke. My family could participate too with my sister being a crew member and my parents travelling around the course to see me at different parts.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: Did the swim do according to plan?

Marcia Cleveland: Because we had a lot of seasoned veterans on our relay team, there wasn’t much of a plan, as far as strategy goes. Just swim AFAP for each leg, F= Fast. We swam in one 45 minute shift then one 30 minute shift, in this order: Liz Fry, me, Elaine Howley, Erica Mofftt, Bonnie Schwartz, and Marcy MacDonald. Our total time was 8 hours. I have no idea what place we got. I swam from the Manhattan Bridge to 65th Street in the East River, then again from just after Spuyten Duyvil to almost the George Washington Bridge.

Stephen Junk: The swim went perfectly towards my plans for the swim.

Marcella MacDonald: Each river had its own personality. The start at 1st at the Battery with the Statue of Liberty facing you; the East river is fast and furious, you are flying up to the Harlem River. Everything slows down in the Harlem, you have to swim in the river, but you see the real people of the city.

At the top of the island, Spuyten Duyvil, most swimmers have to depart from their escorts as they have to wait for the railroad bridge to open, can be scary for the newbie but it’s quick and you meet in the Hudson River.

As you turn to the final river, the Hudson, don’t look up too often at the giant George Washington Bridge, it looks so close but you have five miles to go and that at least another 1.5 hours. The final river can be the roughest, most years for me was a very choppy time to swim, but again there is lots to look at and you are on the final leg.

Rob Kent: I always say I have Plan A and Plan B. My Plan A is very detailed strategy, feeding times, nutrition, etc., based on everything I’ve learned. Plan B is whatever it takes to get it done. I usually have to resort to Plan B. But I was very happy that this was one of the few times that I got to stick to Plan A. My nutrition went well, feeding on one gel and a sports drink every half hour. I took 17 gels…but fewer than Lake Ontario Crossing…42 gels. Which was great because of all of the issues I had had when Plan A fell apart in the English Channel.

Jaimie Monahan: I didn’t have much of a race plan or goal except to finish which I knew meant making it to the top of the Island before the tide turned. As I saw the George Washington Bridge I felt a moment of pure joy as I realized I would likely make it.

Kristian Rutford: The swim went pretty much according to plan. I drink Endurox and have a GU every 30 minutes like clockwork with no adjustments. I am always nervous about getting into the Hudson with a boat beside me, but there were no issues in 2010.

Sakura Adams: I didn’t really have a pre-plan; just to get in and finish, which I am very grateful I did. I was able to achieve the swim targets time wise to ensure I could get around the course. I knew I wasn’t going to be the fastest, but I knew that I’d make it round if the tides and weather allowed me to.

Daily News of Open Water Swimming: What things occurred during the swim that you did not expect?

Marcia Cleveland: In the East River, although the water was calm, there was a lot of boat traffic due to the abundance of swimmers. The Hudson River was quite bumpy that day which made it a lot of fun to swim in.

Stephen Junk: On previous MIMS, I have noted that the current runs stronger in the middle of the Hudson River in comparison to the Manhattan shoreline. So we intended to swim further out from the shore than previously to take advantage of this. However on this occasion, the current ran stronger on the shoreline. The joys of open water swimming.

Marcella MacDonald: Thanks for the flash-back. I’ve forgotten about Manhattan; it is a really fun swim, but not really hard if you are in shape.

Rob Kent: I was nervous and scared until we made the first turn and came up the East River. It was a very short distance, about 500m, but we started swimming against the tide, with large waves and it was colder than I had expected. It only lasted about 15 minutes or so, but my confidence was very low and I remember thinking if it was going to be like this the whole way, there is no way I was going to make it. We turned the corner and suddenly we were going with the tide and the wind and the water warmed up. I felt great after that.

This was a pretty special group of alumni, even though we didn’t know it at the time. A lot of great people that I met there and have maintained friendships with ever since.

Jaimie Monahan: Then there was a disturbance which turned out to be a man committing suicide by jumping from the bridge. I researched it later and it turned out he was the exact same age as me. I was having one of the best moments of my life at the same moment he had his last and likely worst.

Jim Bayles: When I got out of the swim, [race director] Morty Berger said that I looked as if I could do a double. I quoted Ernie Banks of Chicago Cubs fame, by saying, “Let’s play two.”

Kristian Rutford: Nothing went unexpected. After I finished, I went straight to the hotel, showered, took the subway to Penn Station and then the train to Baltimore. The next day, I did the Chesapeake Bay Swim. Needless to say, my favorite part is swimming with good friends.

Sakura Adams: I was lucky that I had contacts who had swum Manhattan before and was able to give me a clear brief of what to expect. So I didn’t really have anything that was unexpected. I feel this is such an iconic swim. I am so glad to see it is happening again. I liked the ‘race’ aspect of the swim also though I a not hugely competitive. It is a swim that I will not forget and would love to do it again sometime if allowed.

2010 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim Results

1. Chloë McCardel, 25, Melbourne, Australia, 7:53:54
2. Jaime Caballero, 35, San Sebastian, Spain, 7:53:59
3. Jose Serra, 36, Guatemala, 8:07:05
4. Stephen Junk, 49, Perth, Australia, 8:08:19
5. Tobey-Anne Saracino, 34, Rye, New York, 8:10:41
6. Samantha Simon, 20, Janesville, Wisconsin, 8:10:54
7. Jen Schumacher (24), 24, Irvine, California, 8:11:05
8. Jeffrey Cleveland, 30, Los Angeles, California, 8:14:48
9. Lance Ogren, 39, New York, 8:16:17
10. Dougal Hunt, 30, Melbourne, Australia, 8:18:54
11. Kristian Rutford, 50, Lincoln, Nebraska, 8:21:15
12. Jim Bayles, 58, Newtown, Connecticut, 8:22:24
13. Craig Lenning, 31, Denver, Colorado, 8:24:28
14. Sakura Hingley, 28, London, United Kingdom, 8:24:33
15. Dave Barra, 45, High Falls, New York, 8:30:00
16. Jordan Waxman, 45, Rockleigh, New Jersey, 8:33:01
17. Julien Leonard, 32, Paris, France, 8:38:58
18. Kathrin Raymond, 31, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 8:44:32
19. Rob Kent, 45, Oakville, Canada, 8:45:00
20. David Strasburg, 44, Charlottesville, Virginia, 8:48:12
21. Andrew Page, 38, Perth, Australia, 8:55:19
22. Amanda Hunt, 41, Sydney, Australia, 8:59:46
23. Mo Siegel, 58, Piermont, New York, 9:03:44
24. Jaimie Monahan, 30, New York, 9:09:33

Photos courtesy of Tom McGann of Swim Free. Video courtesy of Rob Kent.

Copyright © 2008-2017 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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