Tag Archives: Long-Distance Swim

We All Love the Yellow Submarine!

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina and Johna Till Johnson

Yellow Submarine Paddle 22

In the town where I was born,
Lived a man who sailed to sea,
And he told us of his life,
In the land of submarines.

So we sailed on to the sun,
Till we found a sea of green,
And we lived beneath the waves,
In our yellow submarine…

The yellow submarine isn’t just an invention of the Beatles—it exists for real. And it had gotten a paint job, courtesy of our friend Erik Baard and his HarborLab crew. So we decided it was high time to paddle out and see the results.

Let me back up… in the waters of Coney Island Creek, just off Gravesend Bay, there rests—amazingly, improbably!—a yellow submarine. We’ve told a fuller story here, but suffice it to say that the story of its existence just underscores the crazy sense of possibility that permeated the 1960s.

But it’s closing in on 50 years since the yellow submarine was launched, and it had become somewhat the worse for wear. So when we heard it had recovered its original cheerful coloring, we had to go see.

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A Picture-Perfect Ederle Swim

By Johna Till Johnson
Photos by Vladimir Brezina

Ederle Swim 2014 39

Maybe the magic was in the pasta.

This year, Vlad and I signed up to provide kayak support for the Ederle Swim, a 17.5-mile open-water swim from Manhattan to Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Vlad has done it several times, but this was my first time accompanying swimmers to Sandy Hook (though we’ve paddled there many times).

We’d each been assigned a swimmer, and the day before the swim, the organizers, NYC Swim, sent us the swimmers’ email addresses. So I reached out to “my” swimmer, Andrea Varalli, mentioned that I’d done the paddle many times, and offered what advice I could, including the detailed blogs Vlad has posted on Wind Against Current about his previous Ederle Swims (here, here, here, and here).

Next thing I knew, Vlad and I agreed to meet Andrea and his support team for dinner at a “real Italian restaurant” (as Andrea called it), Piacere. (Pleasure, in Italian.) We had guessed (correctly as it turned out) that Andrea was “real Italian”—not merely of Italian descent. So the “real Italian” restaurant was sure to be a treat!

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Travel Theme: Clean

By Vladimir Brezina

Ailsa’s travel-themed photo challenge this week is Clean.

Many are incredulous that the waters around Manhattan are clean enough to swim in.

But it’s true.*

MIMS 2012
MIMS 2012
MIMS 2011
IMGP0887 cropped small
MIMS 2013

These are photos from the last three years of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, a world-class, 28.5-mile swim around Manhattan, organized by NYC Swim every June or July. (Stories and more photos are here, here, and here.) This year on June 14, June 28, and July 12!

*Of course, you should still probably get your shots first ;-)

Ederle Swim 2013

By Vladimir Brezina

Under the Verrazano Narrows BridgeOn Sunday a week ago, August 18th, I found myself once more in my kayak accompanying a long-distance swimmer through New York Harbor.

It was the day of this year’s Ederle Swim, a 17.5 -mile open-water swim from Manhattan to Sandy Hook, New Jersey, organized by NYC Swim. This year’s swim was in fact the centennial swim, since the first successful swim over that course, after a number of failed attempts, occurred a hundred years ago almost to the day, on August 28th, 1913.

My swimmer this year was Barbara Held, from San Diego, California. Having completed her Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming—the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, the Catalina Channel, and the English Channel—Barbara was looking for new challenges!

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Thank You, NYC Swim

By Vladimir Brezina

IMGP7910 cropped small 2Unlike Johna, I’ve been reluctant to write too much about myself on Wind Against Current. Who would want to read that stuff?  And now I don’t have to write anything—NYC Swim has done it for me.

In each issue of their Cross Currents Newsletter, they profile a particular swimmer, or sometimes a volunteer, such as a kayaker, who has worked extensively with them. And so the latest issue of the newsletter features a piece entitled Volunteer of the Week: Vladimir Brezina

It’s got something about what I do when I am not kayaking, or blogging. So, if you want to read such stuff, there it is! :-)

Manhattan Island Marathon Swim 2013: Photos

By Vladimir Brezina

IMGP4221 cropped smallEach summer, NYC Swim organizes a series of shorter and longer swims in New York City’s waterways. The premier event is the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS), a 28.5-mile race around Manhattan. Along with the English Channel and Catalina Channel swims, it is one of the three swims in the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.

Each swimmer is accompanied by a kayaker (as well as a motor boat). So on Saturday a week ago, I kayaked around Manhattan with swimmer Katy Dooley. Katy already knew all about swimming around Manhattan, having swum in MIMS in 2011 as well as 2012—but in both cases as part of a relay. This was going to be her first solo round-Manhattan swim.

This year’s MIMS turned out to be interesting, to say the least. Due to a cascading series of problems, some traceable all the way back to last year’s Hurricane Sandy, others to the unseasonably cold water, and still others to the heavy rains in the previous couple of days, only 11 of the 39 solo swimmers completed the entire swim unassisted.

But Katy was one of them! She powered through, finishing 5th (and 2nd woman) in 7 hours, 44 minutes. And by completing her swim around Manhattan, she became only the 69th swimmer to join the elite club of Triple Crown open water swimmers. A major accomplishment on a very difficult day—and inspiring to watch from close up!

I’ll write more about the swim in a future post. (My writeups of MIMS 2011 and 2012 are here and here.) But in the meantime, here are some of the photographic highlights of MIMS 2013.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far, Take Two

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Near and Far.

I’ve already posted one response to this challenge—three of my annual photos of a round-Manhattan swimmer next to my kayak with the Empire State Building in the distance.

A similar photo-op occurs in our kayaking trips through New York Harbor. We often paddle from Manhattan down to the Lower Bay for the day. As we return in the evening, we pass through the Verrazano Narrows and turn the corner into the Upper Bay. And there suddenly, across the entire Upper Bay, we see the ramparts of Manhattan in the evening sun. They are imposing, but still far, far away…

Swimmers, too, get to see that sight sometimes…

For more on “Paddling to Manhattan Island”, see here; for more on swimming there, see here and here.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Near and Far

By Vladimir Brezina

This week’s Photo Challenge is Near and Far.

Every year I accompany in my kayak the swimmers that circle Manhattan in the annual Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. During this 7- or 8-hour-long race, I have plenty of opportunity to pair in my photos the swimmer in the foreground, just a few feet from my kayak, with various New York City landmarks in the distance.

And there is a particular spot in the Hudson River, with just a few miles left to go, where the landmark is the Empire State Building. I never fail to take a photo there! Here are the photos from three different years.

More photos are here, here, and here.

A second response to the challenge is here.

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Manhattan Island Marathon Swim 2012: Follow the Red Herring!

By Vladimir Brezina
(Title suggestion by Johna Till Johnson)

Each summer, NYC Swim organizes a series of short and longer swims in New York City’s waterways. The premier event is the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS), a 28.5-mile race around Manhattan. Along with the English Channel and Catalina Channel swims, it is one of the three swims in the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming.

Each swimmer is accompanied by a kayaker (as well as a motor boat). Last year, I kayaked for the Lone Starlettes, four women from Texas swimming as a relay. And two of the Starlettes, Gretchen Sanders and Pamela LeBlanc, must have had a good time, because they wanted to return this year and repeat the experience as a two-person relay, The Texas Two-Step.

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Ederle Swim 2011, Round Three

By Vladimir Brezina

NYC Swim‘s Ederle Swim, the ~17-mile open-water swim through New York Harbor between Manhattan and Sandy Hook, NJ, has become very popular. This year, there have been no fewer than three of them. And each one set a new record.

First, in June 2011, Liz Fry swam from Manhattan to Sandy Hook and back, becoming the first swimmer ever to complete a double Ederle Swim—and, in the process, setting records for both individual directions as well.

Then in August, Lance Ogren, swimming with a fast ebb current in the wake of Hurricane Irene, shattered Liz’s Manhattan-to-Sandy Hook record by almost an hour.

I was one of the kayakers accompanying both Liz and Lance on these swims (see my writeups and photos here and here).

And now, Round Three! Last Sunday we had the main, yearly Ederle Swim for multiple swimmers—19 swimmers started—but in the other direction, from Sandy Hook to Manhattan. The winner of this race was looking to beat Liz’s other individual record!

This time I was the kayaker for Janet Harris, in her very first Ederle Swim. Here are some annotated photos from my kayaker’s perspective. Janet has posted her own account of her swim here.

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