8 Bridges Swim




After flying home from the Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in Minneapolis on Saturday evening, I jumped into the Hudson on Sunday morning at 10am for a 13.5 miles swim race. Stage 3 started at the Mid-Hudson Bridge, which connects Poughkeepsie to Highland (near New Paltz).

Water temp was about 78 and I was all set to wear my speedsuit (TYR sayonara), but made a last minute decision to remove it after advice from a more experienced open water swimmer. Turns out I didn't really need it because the water was mostly warm, with some really cold patches every now and then.

When the race started, I set off at a quick pace and after a few minutes got it in my head that I shouldn't stop until at least 1 hour, so that I could see what an Ironman swim felt like. The first hour went surprisingly fast, probably because there wasn't too much to look at, other than my kayakers, SJ on the left and Dan W. on the right. You would think that having things to look at would help, but that wasn't really the case. Things on the shore seemed so close, but in reality they were frustratingly far away.

When I finally stopped after my pretend Ironman swim, I was informed that I really needed to stop more to drink and eat. So, I ignored advice and put my head down and swam for another 45 minutes straight. I took a few sips of water and a gulp of EFS shot and then swam for another 30 min. I carried on like this until about 3 hours in when things started to fall apart a little. I stopped for a little longer at that point - to force myself to drink - and got passed by Rondi, a very experienced and fast open water swimmer, who was actually pacing herself. I tried to go with Rondi and her kayaker. I gave it a good effort, but after a few failed attempts, I realized that I had to focus on just finishing and not racing my way to the bridge.

Staring at the finish line for an hour before crossing was really difficult, especially since I was starting to get cold. If I didn't have the encouragement from SJ and Dan, I don't know if I could have gotten there! It took a total of 4.5 hours to reach the spans. From there, I grabbed on to the end of SJ's kayak and he towed me to the boat. Completely spent, I crawled aboard the boat and was handed a ZICO, a dove bar and my favorite TEAM FIGHT sweatshirt. I was so tired that I had to lay down on the side of the boat and basically passed out while everyone else finished.

It was quite an experience, but for now I'm content to race 1500m ...or possibly one day 2.4 miles.

Thanks to Dave B for letting me join in on the fun, Clare and the rest of the crew for looking after me after the race, and thanks especially my kayakers for leading the way. It is hard to imagine jumping in the water and doing that all over again today--that's what Stage 4 races are doing today. Good Luck!!