In 1911, a 17-year old swimmer named Rose Pitonof swam from E 26th St in Manhattan, down the East River, across New York Harbor and round to Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island, a total distance of around 17 miles. Urban Swim has revived this swim as an annual event, attracting a small but very determined group of serious endurance swimmers.
This was the third swim that I've shot for Urban Swim, and they'd arranged for me to ride on the 'media boat', a small motor launch crewed by a genial lobsterman. When we started, it was pouring with rain and both the videographer and I were somewhat uneasy about spending the day trying to keep our gear dry in an open boat. Soon, however, the rainclouds disappeared, and it turned into a beautiful day.
All eight swimmers - three women, five men - finished the course in less than six hours, with the first finisher, swimmer Elke Hofman, taking just over five hours to cover the distance.