Race Report: Great Hudson River Swim

On a whim in late May, three weeks before MIMS, I flew out to New York on a Friday evening, woke up the next morning and did the Great Hudson River Swim. The first race of the NYC Swim series, the GHRS is a quick 1.6-mile dash down the Hudson. I had a free hotel night expiring soon, found a cheap flight, and had an itch for some early-season racing. So I figured, what the hell. Perhaps I’d even gain some immune-system benefit from a quick dip in the Hudson before MIMS?

I would see this view under different circumstances 3 weeks later...

I would see this view under different circumstances 3 weeks later...

I don’t have time for a full narrative, but here are a few bullet points:

  • The race is beginner-friendly, but also an interesting cold-water opportunity for those willing to brave the (typically) high-50’s water without wetsuits.
  • Almost everyone wears wetsuits, even those who really don’t need them. Somewhat regrettably, the wetsuits and the “skins” aren’t separated in the results.
  • I did have some company in the “naked” non-category, and it was company I was glad to keep: Dave, John, and Janet of the CIBBOWS, as well as last year’s GHRS winner, Cedric.
  • The 365 participants were divided into 5 waves according to predicted speed, but the starting order was a little weird: 1, 2, 5, 4, 3 - with 1 being slowest and 5 fastest.
  • Theoretically, the race was scheduled during a slack tide, so the order shouldn’t have affected the results. In reality, there was a sizeable current that increased throughout the morning. So: the later the wave, the faster the push.
  • I was second among the fastest wave (#5) to touch the ladder at the finish, behind a guy in a wetsuit. In MIMS, when you touch the ladder you’re done. I found out later you had to cross a timing pad further up the dock. So a second guy in a wetsuit passed me while climbing up the ladder. Congratulations to Simon Wignall on his last second heroics.
  • But actually Simon only managed 8th place overall - because 6 people beat both of us from Wave 4!
  • Staggered start + river with big tidal flows = dock-jump to get in the water, a staggered start is the only choice. Ah, well… tough beans.
Photo Credit: Hector Adalid

Photo Credit: Hector Adalid

Thankfully, Dave Barra swooped in to save the day and offered me a ride out to Brighton Beach for a dip with the CIBBOWS. I got in some quality time with John and Janet, and met Rondi for the first time. I joined John and Rondi for a swim to the Coney Island pier and back, before I had to head back to the hotel, shower, and get to the airport.

All in all, a successful weekend. I was back in Chicago in time for dinner.