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The Men & Woman Behind The Bridges

Videos courtesy of Keith Woodburn, Lake Minnewaska, New York.

While every participant, every finisher in the 45.9 km 20 Bridges Manhattan Island Swim is celebrated and congratulated, the back office and logistics of the organization behind the 20 Bridges Manhattan Island Swim takes a tremendous effort.

Behind the scenes, putting in 20-hour days obtaining permits, recruiting volunteers, coordinating escort pilots and crews, administering the event, managing timing, tracking systems and social media are David Barra, co-founder, director and president of the New York Open Water together with director, vice president and treasurer Rondi Davies and director and secretary Alex Arévalo.

Saturday’s 45.9 km circumnavigation race around Manhattan Island was a culmination of decades of experiences, years of work and hours of detailed planning where 9 swimmers achieved their individual goals of achieving the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming (Nathalie Pohl, Ned Wieland, Jenny Smith, Peter Dolnik, Melissa Kegler, Kate Robarts, Kamil Resa Alsaran, Ragip Vural Tandoğan, and Pat Gallant-Charette) joined 7 others from around the world to enjoy one of the most scenic, iconic open water swims in the world (including Luca Pozzi from Italy, Samuel Vidal Fernandez from Spain, Rene Martínez Saenz from Mexico, Peter Lofquist from Arizona, Ingrid Bon from Florida, Zoe Sadler from the UK, and Dongho Choi from New Jersey).

How David, Rondi and Alex do everything that they do in order to pull off a great event is beyond me,” commented Steven Munatones. “Not only are they organizing the 20 Bridges event, but they are also concurrently working on the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, the 2 Bridges Swim, the 40 Bridges Swim, the Spuyten Duyvil 10K, the Terry Laughlin Celebration Swim and the Ederle Burke Swim while managing full-time jobs. But they organize each swim giving tremendous attention to detail as if they were swimming the events themselves. This passsion is inspiring and appreciated by everyone involved.”

Gallant-Charette shares how the race directors helped her succeed with a 10 hour 53 minute circumnavigation, “One week before the race, I was contacted by Rondi Davies. After she conferred with the other directors, she explained to me about the predicted weaker currents for June 30th. She mentioned that the directors agreed with the predictions and a slow swimmer like me would not have favorable currents to succeed. She recommended that I drop out of the race and my slot would be deferred to the following year. I highly respected her recommendation because she truly wants every swimmer to succeed.

I decided to do my own research on the currents and the directors were exactly right. The weak currents would not be advantageous for a slow swimmer to reach the finish line. The odds were stacked heavily against me as a slow swimmer.

At that moment, I decided to change my strategy going into the race and not drop out.

The following day I asked my swim friend to harshly critique my stroke. In one session, my speed increased. My plan was to swim as fast as I possibly could swim. I decided to use my practice feed pattern: swim for two hours take a feed, swim for another two hours and take a feed, and thereafter every hour feeds. My feeds alternated with a carbo drink and plain water with a food item of 250 calories.

My success was attributed to Rondi because if she never would have notified be about the weak currents I would never have change my strategy. I appreciate the race directors honesty and integrity in promoting such a wonderful swim.”

The New York Open Water’s latest event is the Terry Laughlin Celebration Swim held in Lake Minnewaska, a memorial event for the man Barra describes as [the] “single person who has had a more positive impact on swimming for sport and recreation. Lake Minnewaska was his most frequent jaunt and appeared often on his blog.”

Nelson Aaron, Hashim Al-Mashat, Edward Antonyuk, Aditya Arya, Royalle Asuncion, Jim Bacon, Bridget Barclay, Brian Barrett, Jennifer Bauman, David Beaudry, Adrienne Becker, Jim Becker, Allison Bier, Stephanie J Bludau Tor, Jennifer Borrero, Tricia Bowen, Mindy Bowens, Andrew Brookner, Emily Burke, Nicholas Burnham, Kimberly Carlson, Alice Caroompas, Andrew Chasen, Dongho Choi, Jeff Christian, Paige Churchman, Jonathan Churins,
Sarah Clark, Janice Cragnolin, Dan Crandell, Paula Croxson, Raymond Cuadrado, Claudia Cummings, Don David, Ashley Davidock, Evan Davis, Jim Demis, Mary DeNitto, Mark Donowick, Shawn Ehlers, Simone Erchov, Shane Eversfield, Alan Fidler, Mike Flannery, Shara Frederick, David Gandin, Teresa Garrett, Lan Ge, William Gehris, Julie Geisler, Laura Gibson-Rimer, Tom Gill, Erin Glynn, Kimberly Gonzalez, Steven Goran, Philip Gormley, Mary Gracin, Adrienne Groccia, Laurie Gruberg, Elizabeth Hasho, Adam Hasho, Bryan Hasho, Dawn S Hein, Evelyn Heinbach, Mary Howard, Jarrett Huddleston, Michele Humphrey-Nicol, Rachel Hunderfund, Julie Hyland, Mary Ellen Isalson, Susan Jacque, Cindy Jarvis, Joanna Jenner, James Kelly, Susan Kirk, Bob Kolonkowski, Maeve Korkan-Laughlin, Jennifer Kyff, Peter Lambousis, Glenn Lapolt, Fiona Laughlin, Pegeen Laughlin, Edmund Levin, Tracy Little, Tylene Lizardi, John Lomasney, Richard Loveland, Carrie Loveland, Martha Madrid, Beth Maloney, Catherine Maloney Falicon, Mikko Manner, Christian Martinez, Thomas McGann, Kevin Mcguigan, Anne Mcguigan, Declan McKenna, Patrick McKnight, Tom McPherson, Philip Milio, William Miller, Ricard Miller, Karen Miura, Caroline Murphy, Mario Antonio, Alfonso Naranjo, Jesse Nelson, Emir O’Hara, Genevieve Oliver, Tamlyn Oliver, William Pape, Flavio Pardo, Alan Perez, Mark Peterson, MaryAnn Piamonte, Shiloh Pileggi, Lena Pileggi, Wyatt Pileggi, Derek Pivko, Liza Pollock, Steven Pressman, Stan Prives, Satish Kumar, Bill Reichle, Nancy Ribakove, Carrie Roble, Mary Rosen, John Rossiello, Jeffrey Ruiz, Deborah Sagan, Colette Salyk, Eric Schall, Roman Scoccimarro, Janine Serell, Bill Shashaty, Bob Shook, Steve Shtab, Conchita Singson, Kim Skomra, Sarah Snider, Sharon Snyder, Fleur Sohtz, Paul Soule, Pamela St. John, MaryStella Stabinsky, Dana Standefer, Jim Standefer, Ed Stoner, Lisa Stout, Adrian Stroie, Shay Strong, Brian Suddeth, Max Summers, Daniel Talbert, Persia Tatar, Sam Tergek, Louis Tharp, Thaddeus Tone, Charlie Trautmann, Louise Twining-Ward, Denise Ullrich, Joellen Valentine, Susanna van Sant, Lauren Vigna, Cristina Villagra, Douglas Vogt, Adrienne Wald, Jeff Weiss, David Wilburn, Gareth Williams, Rich Yang, Wilfred Yenko, Khristian Yenko, Francis Yenko, Bernadeth Yenko, Wilfred Yenko Jr., and Elizabeth Young are participated in the inaugural memorial swim on June 9th.

For more information on New York Open Water events, visit here.

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