Reverse Manhattan 20 Bridges Swim

By Rondi Davies. Photo credits: Janet Harris, Sharon Gunderson, Courtney Moates Paulk.

Reverse Manhattan Swim History

Kris Rutford was the first to swim a Reverse Manhattan in August, 1995 in a time of 17:48:30. Liz Fry completed the swim on September 18, 2009 in a time of 11:44:05 with a start and finish at the Willis Avenue Bridge in the Harlem River.


I’ve been fascinated by the Reverse Manhattan swim since I followed Liz Fry’s swim, and it’s been a goal to attempt it for a few years. However, since becoming a parent it hasn’t been possible for me to train enough to realistically attempt any marathon swim.

Courtney Moates Paulk has been eager to try the Reverse swim with NYOW; her persistence was the push I needed to find a date, commit, and get somewhat prepared (I wasn’t going to organize this swim and not try it myself). After hiring coach Abby Fairmain last December, I had put in a minimal amount of pool training and a good number of marathon swims during the summer (8 Bridges Stages 0, 2, 5, 6 and Kingdom Week days 1,2,3 including an 18 mile double crossing of Lake Massawippi in Quebec).

I chose Sunday, September 1 for the fast tidal currents (which are needed to get up the Hudson) and warm water. September 28 offered a faster tide, but cooler water. Plus New York City closes its pools for maintenance after Labor Day, so I would miss valuable pool time in the lead up. In addition, September 1 worked best as I just started a new job, the kids are headed back to school, and lawyer Courtney had a big court case coming up.


Andrew Malinak and I independently prepared models for the swim. Considering my open water pace (of 3.45 km/hr with feeds and waves) determined from my recent Vermont swims, we both predicted a time of 8 hours 44 minutes. Our models matched almost exactly for the different locations on the course, which usually doesn’t happen when we model the counterclockwise 20 Bridges swims. I was excited the swim could be so fast and was mentally preparing for a nine-hour, record shattering swim.

The swim would start with the Hudson flood, so the current is building and peaking as we reach the George Washington Bridge, about 12 miles upriver. After four hours in the Hudson, swimmers enter the Harlem in the dying flood and are confronted by the ebb current several miles later. I calculated this to be around the Madison Avenue Bridge, five miles into the Harlem. Then swimmers must fight the ebb current until Mill Rock, spending a total of 3.5 hours in the Harlem River.

At Mill Rock swimmers join the fast (up to 5 knots) outgoing ebb of the East River. The goal would be to work hard for the first seven to eight hours to be sure to make the most of the Hudson and Harlem flood currents. In the Harlem, we were to hide from the ebb on the sea wall to make progress. Once in the of the East River the water would be with us and we could relax and almost float to the finish.

My head space

Life is busy so there wasn’t a lot of time to mentally prepare. NYOW hosted a 16-swimmer 20 Bridges swim the day before (8/31), so I was caught up in that, but at least not on the water. I told NYOW co-founder David Barra the swim was almost an academic exercise in mastering the currents in the reverse format, and trying for a record swim time as a bonus. The stakes were low, since the swim was almost an experiment, and so my anxiety levels were reasonably low. Andy bought my feeds while I worked the swim on Saturday. I threw everything in a bag the night before, but in my scattered state forgot to give Andy my teams contact info.

The Team

We met at Pier 40 just before the 6 AM sunrise. My team consisted of crew person Janet Harris, observer Dana Page, and kayakers, Luis Lopez and Alex Arévalo. Janet is a good friend and accomplished and experienced marathon swimmer. Dana is marathon swimmer and exceptional volunteer for NYOW  (also a paramedic and public defender). She delayed her trip back to DC after 20 Bridges the previous day to observe my swim. Alex and Luis have done 12 swim support circumnavigations of Manhattan this season alone and were excited to see the swim in reverse. Having two kayakers felt decadent, but it was an immeasurable help once we were fighting the current in the Harlem.

We chatted with Courtney and her crew Liz Fry, the Reverse record holder, and busily prepared before loading the RHIBs. Pat Kerrigan and Terry Lopatosky as kayaker and observer rounded out Courtney’s team. Janine Serell was at the dock to wish us well and helped set the tone for a relaxed and fun day. “Remember that these are your home waters” were her words of wisdom before we parted. Sean Makofsky, Thomas Crystall and Rick piloting RHIBs arrived and we motored to the Staten Island Ferry Terminal at the southern tip of Manhattan.

Dana, Janet and myself pre-swim.
Kayaker Alex.
Kayaker Luis.
Boater Sean.
Myself and Courtney.
And we’re off.

The Swim

The Hudson

We splashed off the Coast Guard pier at the Battery at 6:38 AM. The air was about 60˚F, there were patches of clouds, and the water was comfortable in the low 70s. I started stroking and lost sight of Courtney almost immediately. Alex and Luis soon flanked my sides. The water was calm though there was a brisk northerly wind (about 8 mph). We swam along the seawall against the current and slowly passed the landmarks of the Battery: South Cove, North Cove, and Pier 25. When swimming counterclockwise with the current, it takes minutes to pass these locations in the Hudson’s outgoing ebb. It took 40 minutes to swim the mile upriver to North Cove. The flood current was scheduled to start at 7:15, but it was 8 AM before any northward push was felt. At Pier 40, two miles into the swim, we were 25 minutes behind schedule, and at Pier 88, three miles in, we were forty minutes behind. After that the current picked up and, with the wind against current, it was a choppy, joyful ride upriver. Feeds, consisting of a combination of Gatorade, bananas, Gu gels, mini choc-chip cookies, and ibuprofen every two to four hours, came quickly. I welcomed the bouncy water, since I knew it was due to a fast current push.

After 79th Street Boat Basin, I channeled memories of the past years swimming the the NYC Swim Little Red Light House 10K, which went from 79th St to Inwood, north of the George Washington Bridge. Once that course was covered we moved from the fast currents in the center of the Hudson toward the eastern side of the river close to the Inwood Canoe Club. Club member Manuela Jessel delivered coffee and muffins to Alex and Luis, and Richard Lopez accompanied us through Spuyten Duyvil, the headwaters of the Harlem River.

Lower Manhattan, Hudson River
North Cove, Lower Manhattan.

The Harlem

The Harlem River was warm, calm, and sunny and we all let out a whoop of delight to have completed the Hudson after 4.5 hours. I knew that arriving at the Harlem River late meant there would be more time with a push against me on this leg of the course, and it was soon evident that the flood current I was expecting to help me through the first few miles was quickly waning. We arrived in the Harlem at 11 AM and the current turned on or before schedule at 11:55 AM when we were at the 207th Street Bridge, a mere 1.5 miles into the 9 mile stretch. I hadn’t mentally prepared for this scenario and while resting in a lee after Alex and I battled an already brisk current along the eastern sea wall at Roberto Clemente park I said to him “this wasn’t part of the plan”. Alex said “well the plan just changed”. It took an hour to swim another 1.5 miles to High Bridge, all the while the Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and High Bridge overpasses taunted me by looking so near and yet taking so long to reach. I realized the swim could well be over at this point, and if I made it to the East River before her ebb was completed, it certainly wasn’t going to be an 8hr 45 min swim. In any case, it made most sense to keep swimming and see what unfolded.

Spuyten Duyvil, Harlem River
Spuyten Duyvil, Harlem River

New Yorkers know that by rule of thumb there are 20 blocks to a mile. Luis noted that High Bridge is at 173 Street and the Harlem ends around 100th Street, so it was 3.5 miles more against the current (it’s actually 4.5 miles). With the model now out the window, I calculated I was swimming at about one mile per hour and it would take three hours to swim the remaining 70 blocks of the Harlem. If I got to Mill Rock at 4 PM the swim was finishable, but any later and I would probably not make it down the East River before the end of the outgoing ebb. This is pretty much how things worked out; I was in the Harlem for a total of five hours, arriving at Mill Rock just before 4 PM.

Swimming against the Harlem is the most memorable part of the swim. It’s remaining 11 bridges focused faster waters to flow between the narrowings created by the bridge stanchions. The challenge was to break through these rapid currents and find lees and eddies on the other side of the bridge before encountering the next bridge challenge. Hannah Borgeson, who observed Liz’s swim in 2009, warned me that the narrow channels under the bridges nearest the sea wall had even faster currents that the central channels. Each bridge was a puzzle to solve. Luis and Alex focused hard on the best course to take and I followed their direction, sometimes moving left, then right, and sometimes half way in, turning back and trying a different channel.

Meeting up with Sharon near the Madison Ave. Bridge.
Sharon, Alex, me, Luis.

About half-way through the Harlem, near the Madison Avenue Bridge, friend Sharon Gunderson joined us on a stand-up paddle board. I had wanted Sharon to be on the boat for the swim, but she had other plans, so I was beaming that she could join us, and even better that she was right on the water with me. She radiated warmth, support, and calm. I swam with a smile, so happy to be surrounded by this wonderful team who were helping me on this crazy venture, which as the hours passed and we struggled through more and more of the bridge currents, struck me as being a really bad idea.

Soon Sharon was leading the charge, scouting out the best channels to take under the bridges. The challenges mounted as we passed the Third Ave, Willis Ave, and RFK/Triboro Bridges. I had been warned there was no hiding from adverse currents at the RFK Bridge, though Sharon made the pass relatively easy (even if it was over submerged dock pilings). And there was a jumper just before we went under this bridge, which should have registered from all the flashing police car lights, but I only learned this later, and that the “patient” was ok.

The river broadened and I could see friendly and familiar landmarks of the Hell Gate Bridge and the 103rd Street footbridge. Excitement mounted within that the swim could be completed. At Wards and Randall’s Island we passed under a Ferry dock being repaired to avoid the wash of a NYPD launch pushing against the dock at full throttle. The loud beats and flashing lights of the massive Electric Zoo rave soon serenaded us. Luis and Alex rocked their boats and waved their paddles as they grooved to the beat. It was hysterical. People on the shore looked and pointed at us and it felt like we were in an alternate universe to them. After eight hours of challenging swimming and the intrusion of the city on our tired delirium, the dancing kayakers captured the craziness of this venture.

I hoped see Andy and my kids around this time and they appeared almost miraculously when I stopped to feed before the 103rd street footbridge. It was all smiles at this point. They walked with us as we swam against the current by the rip rap on Randall’s island.  Under the footbridge Alex, Luis and I shrieked as signs of the favorable ebb current of the East River were felt. Andy and the kids had to run to keep up with us now and soon we were waving good-bye.

Meeting up with Andy and the kids at Wards/Randalls Island.

The East River

Breaking into the East River ebb was no easy feat. We tried to enter at the tip of Randall’s island, on the east side of Mill Rock, but had to turn back and pass Mill Rocks west bank. At this tidal confluence the water ripped, twisted, turned and sucked. There was small tight chop and then bigger chop. At one point Luis’ kayak was swung 90˚ in seconds and his stern almost whacked me in the head. We all knew to hang on and go with the flow, for the final eight miles would take not much more than an hour to complete in the 3-5 knot currents.

Unsuccessfully trying to break through to the East River on the east side of Mill Rock.

As we entered the East River I was preparing for the loss of Sharon from the team as I assumed she would return to her launch site in the Harlem. However, as we bounced and twisted in the wild flow, she was there by my side, kneeling upright on her paddle board. Imagine someone keeping their balance while standing on a wild bull at a rodeo; Sharon’s yoga master and ladder skills from painting houses were shining through. (I have also watched Sharon paint my apartments ceiling while balancing on one leg on the top wrung of a ladder).

Along Roosevelt Island, where the currents are strongest, we had five foot swells and breaking waves. Momentarily we’d disappear from each-others view while riding over a wave crest or into a trough. We all howled in delight; after the Harlem river what a contrast and reward.

Just before the waves started breaking in the fast ebb of the East River.

Approaching 34th street the  Sun was starting to dip in the sky and cast its glow our way. It felt like the four of us were a formidable, misfit gang cruising down the East River. We flew past the the BMW bridges, but this time in reverse: Williamsburg, Manhattan, Brooklyn. At the heliport I could see the silhouette of the burnt orange Staten Island Ferry docking at the finish point with the Statue of Liberty in the background.

Manhattan Bridge
Brooklyn Bridge
The finish and holding Staten Island Ferry.

Would we need to wait for the ferry to depart? Luis told me to keep swimming. Sean had spoken to the ferry captain and they were holding while I passed the terminal. Passengers were standing at the railings watching me. New York City casts rare and absurd moments when we stop and realize why we love this city. This was one of them. My final time was 11 hours and 17 seconds; forty four minutes faster than the former record and forty minutes ahead of the flood in the East River that would have stopped me in my tracks. I climbed on the RHIB to the embrace of Janet and Dana, elated.

Happy swimmer.

Final Thoughts

All the people mentioned in this write up were part of my team that helped to accomplish this goal. Their vast experience and support is the reason this day was so fun, relaxed, a wonderful experience, and ultimately a success. I am so grateful. As I said to Alex and Luis after riding the white waters along Roosevelt Island “You guys are my heroes. I can’t thank you enough”.

What Happened to Courtney?

Courtney lost valuable time in the Hudson’s flood current when she was forced to move to shore and tread water for 30 minutes while a French war ship docked. She arrived at Spuyten Duyvil with the Harlem against her, and battled the river at Broadway Bridge for many hours until retiring after 11 hours of swimming.

Ginger Smalls Movie Shorts

Awesome kayaker Michael Smalley put together these funny (and spot on) movie shorts for Stages 1 to 5. The are classic!

Stage 1:

Stage 2:

Stage 3 (Into the River):

Stage 4 (Through the Highlands):

Stage 5 (The Beast of the Hudson):

Hudson River Mikveh

By Sharon Gunderson

Hudson River Mikveh

[before I begin: thank you for waiting so long to read this. I essentially jumped from the river onto a plane to AZ, where I painted a good deal of my parents’ house for the last week.]

a mikveh is a Jewish ritual bath, a pure body of water used for spiritual purification and rejuvenation. I have yet to step into a formal one myself, but every time I have the privilege of swimming in the Hudson River, my whole soul is washed.

last year for the 8Bridges swim, I swam one stage: from the Tappan Zee Bridge to the George Washington Bridge (otherwise known as Stage 6). this year I decided to swim two stages: Stage 3 (from the Mid-Hudson Bridge in Poughkeepsie to the I-84 Newburgh-Beacon Bridge) and Stage 4 (from the I-84 Bridge to the Bear Mountain Bridge).

for various reasons, one of which was more employment than I expected (yay!) I had precious little time to train this time around (boo!), and I didn’t enter the spring with much confidence. my primary fear was water temperature (the river possibly being on the cold side), and while I tried to stay longer and longer in the ocean at Brighton Beach, for both cold tolerance and distance, more often than not I would not reach my goals, and my discouragement was strong. both Stage 3 and Stage 4 take longer to swim than Stage 6, as their currents are considerably slower, and while the dream of finishing either one seemed distant indeed, I also didn’t want to look like a total fool.

(an aside here: the 8Bridges swim is the longest stage swim in the world, at 120 miles over 8 days, racing the changing of the tide each day. those that swim the whole thing are Olympic level athletes, absolutely world-class at the top of their game. others with not quite that much time or money swim one or a few of the harder stages, also elite athletes. that Rondi Davies and David Barra have created a structure for this race that allows amateurs such as myself to mingle with and swim in the same waters with such superstars is a thing of rare egalitarian beauty, and I bow in gratitude. imagine someone who played violin in junior high orchestra, then off and on through the rest of their life with a few lessons here and there, being invited to sit in for a concert with the New York Philharmonic, whose players went to conservatory and had 20 years of private lessons and thousands of hours of practicing  also, at no point does anyone talk down to or act in the slightest snooty, judgmental or comparative way, down their nose or side-eyed at those of lesser or slower abilities. everyone encourages everyone else, every single day, period.)

one day while swimming at Brighton Beach in a terrible mood for no reason (bright sun! no wind! nice water!), I suddenly realized that I needed to stop focusing on results for my stages and instead *just enjoy the damn process*. why on earth was I doing any of this if I wasn’t enjoying it?? my headspace started to turn, even as I wasn’t too sure about my muscle power. swimming takes a sh*tload of energy, and long-distance abilities take a long time to develop. but I kept running into my wonderful swim friends who knew what I was up against but relentlessly encouraged me, and then Jeanne JC DuBois reminded me “you have a good base from last year’s training”, which is true!

at last, the morning of Stage 3 arrived. I thought I planned enough time to get ready, hahahaha! there never seems to be enough time! I had too many things, in too many bags. as I scrambled to organize, John Humenik my beloved friend and brilliant kayaker (and world-class swimmer too) focused me quick:

“Sharon, all you need is suit, cap, googles, feeds, water, sunscreen.”
“Sunscreen!! SH*T!!!”
(I had everything else, and a lot more 

despite my self-pledge to Enjoy what I was doing, I was all nerves. a ridiculous amount of nerves, like I was about to play an orchestra audition. later when I wasn’t feeling so hot, I had to laugh: would I rather be struggling in the river or playing an audition? no contest there nope nopitty nopeness! (my musician friends will understand 

the swim started okay, and while I immediately fell in love with the Hudson all over again as soon as I was in it, my intestines weren’t exactly thrilled with what I was doing, and my arms were sore way too soon. towards the middle of the swim, I was tempted to end it, to choose pessimism over joy, but fortunately this choice had been taken out of the equation: before I got in, I swore to myself that someone else would pull me from the water if I couldn’t finish. someone else would make that decision, not me. I was in for the duration.

I reminded myself I felt a thousand times better than last year, and started to think of all the people I love who have helped me so much on my swim journey: all my swim and water community friends, Jewish friends, music friends, yoga friends, all kinds of people I know for a hundred reasons: all of you reading this and more. I meditated on what you’ve said to me and how your positive energy buoyed me forward. what a gift! -to spend hours thinking about wonderful humans! as I did this, my mental soundtrack found Shabbat songs I could adjust to the tempo of my stroke, repeating their refrains over and over. I got so lost in this reverie that I didn’t exactly forget about the bridge I was trying to reach, but I felt so slow and inadequate that I was genuinely surprised when John indicated I would reach it in time, before the tide switched, if I could just kick a little harder at the end…

and I did! I made it! I finished Stage 3, having swum almost an hour longer than I’ve ever swum before: 6 hours and 9 minutes total. I was elated, yet dazed. how had I pulled that off? meditating on love and not giving up.

I was so stoked by this victory (over my own self-doubt, AND reaching the bridge!) that my mindset for Stage 4 was completely different the next morning. nerves were gone, and I was there for sheer love of the river. I knew it was likely I wouldn’t finish (I’m still too slow for this stage of many miles and moderate current), and I was sore as hell and exhausted from the day before. my goal was to reach Storm King, a beautiful lump of mountain rising straight out of the Hudson’s fjord (the water is 200 ft deep in places there)! the first part of the swim is a bit boring, as the river is wide and one doesn’t see much while swimming. and I was in pain. after maybe 90 minutes, a support boat suddenly zoomed up. “we’re going to jump you and another swimmer upriver”, they said, as we were too far back from the rest of the swimmers for us to be easily watched over and kept safe from boat traffic in the area. twist my arm, I thought, I’m not worried about officially finishing this stage anyway and I’m cold and tired! the boat was so warm and wonderful, and they scooted us up quick to the lead swimmers, while our kayakers raced to get up there too. well the lead swimmers were at Storm King! -which is the most gorgeous part of Stage 4, and arguably the most amazing of the entire Hudson. as soon as John caught up, I jumped back in, ecstatic that I would get to swim this magical stretch, rather than struggling to get to the beginning of it. the water was so pure and perfect I was tempted to drink it on purpose. like silk it flowed over and around my body, a miracle of grace.

oh that I could stay in those waters forever! but where I could swim through my pain during Stage 3, this time I was realizing that swimming through it would cause damage I didn’t want. I made it to the middle of West Point (what stunning edifices, from the water!), did breast stroke for awhile (which I’m good at), did a little back stroke (which I’m not), and finally decided to throw in the towel and get on the boat. I wasn’t sad about not reaching Bear Mountain, I was only upset to leave the water! but not for long: the best hug on earth was waiting for me from Janet Harris, and then she held out a huge tin of spectacular oatmeal raisin ginger cookies! I got to enjoy the rest of Stage 4’s beauty from the comfort of the boat, munching away. later my over-packing paid off: a swimmer who finished the entire stage was very cold, shivering madly as we wrapped him in multiple blankets. in minutes he was happy and improving, but I noticed his hands were still white, and pulled out my thick fleece-wool mittens, which he gratefully accepted.

the next stage, Stage 5, is the hardest: nearly 20 miles from Bear Mountain to the Tappan Zee Bridge (sorry Cuomo: I will call it The Tapp til my dying day), and faint current where the river opens wide for the last 10 miles or so. I volunteered on a support boat for this stage, which got a little exciting when a smooth curtain of rain erased the Tapp from view, and wind whipped the water into a roiling frenzy. but wow, that river was beautiful, and as the day wore on, I wished badly that I might swim in it some more. I joked with a couple people saying Hey, if someone drops out for tomorrow’s Stage 6, I’ll take their place, haha (the weather forecast was perfect, and the likelihood of a swimmer not showing up virtually nil). see, everyone must have a kayaker, and kayakers are like unicorns, especially on weekdays… so I was happily resigned to being a boat volunteer once again.

but then! -a text pops up after I’m home that eve: “come ready to swim. we may have an extra kayaker” -!!!- I couldn’t believe it. I did exactly that, my packing simplified the third time around. the next morning riding the train up, I noted all the landmarks I knew so well: Stage 6 was the stage I swam last year, under major physical duress, so no matter what happened this time I’d be happy. at the marina, swimmers paired off with their kayakers to discuss things briefly before the swim and hand off their feeds and water, but I stood waiting, watching, trying to determine if a mystery extra kayaker existed or not. the crowd began to thin, it was time to go, and I thought oh well, better get to the support boat. suddenly Alex Arevalo‘s voice rang out: “Abby will kayak for you. okay?” YES PLEASE.

now Abigail Fairman, who thought she’d be on a boat all day, is a world-class swimmer, completing the entire seven stages last year. but she’s decided to acquire kayaking skills as well, and I was elated: as a swimmer herself, she would understand my needs in the water, and I would give her the opportunity to practice (with a slow swimmer! in a tailwind with fierce current! no easy flat water here, nope! ha).

and down the river we went! what total, complete gloriousness. the sun bright, the water warm, the tailwind pushing me, the river flowing with rocking swells. I felt amazing, my stomach was fine, my intestines were fine, my arms were fine (mostly, til the last hour or so), my HEAD and heart were more than fine, exploding with joy. I was finally having a swim where nothing was wrong, and everything was right. I relived moments from last year when i was too sick to enjoy them much at the time, relishing those memories like Sarah Lilley seeing me off at the start and later cheering me on from Riverdale. Abby waved a feed at me every 30 min, just like John had done in my previous stages, but more than once I thought she was messing with me: 30 minutes couldn’t possibly have passed already! even as my arms started to complain towards the end, it didn’t matter. the beautiful George Washington Bridge soared taller and taller, until finally under her I went.

is this the most beautiful sight in the world, the underbelly of the GWB, its view a manifestation of spontaneous grace, the gift of a last minute swim, redemption from last year’s struggle and this year’s doubt? does my joy pop up and shine in this mikveh like the final red buoy, a shipping channel marker (we swimmers love those buoys, steady sentinels of order), a buoy unseen from the roadbed above, and forgotten by me, until I swam past it once again, with sweet surprise?



A “short dip”

By Diego Lopez

I am thrilled to have just completed Stage 3 of 8 Bridges. With 13.1 miles, it was my longest swim to date, and one that I considered key in preparing my attempt to swim around Manhattan Island next August. I had recently taken the plunge into the Hudson for the 2 Bridges and I knew what to expect (sort of), so I was very keen throughout the week leading to the event.

More importantly, I was excited to meet the amazing group of swimmers that were tackling not only Stage 3 but the 120 miles separating Rip Van Winkle Bridge and Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Moments before the splash, I met with Graco who quickly asked me if this was the only stage I was going to do. I replied positively, saying that my goal was the round-of-Manhattan (like if I needed an excuse to swim “only” 13 miles), to what he responded: “oh, how many rounds will you be doing? Cos’ I’m doing two in July.” So there I was, about to swim over 20 kilometers down the river with a bunch of (delightful) crazies.

The Mighty Hudson could not look better that Saturday morning. Very little wind, no rain, and water temperature at a chilly-but-bearable 67 degrees. More importantly, I had one of my best friends kayaking for me, which was a huge reassurance and support. I had had some bad recent experiences with random kayakers, and I was very happy to count with Mark by my side, besides all the awesome support of NYOW.

Swimming a marathon over 10K requires a different strategy and mindset than any other race. I focused my energies on swimming efficiently and on stopping for the hourly feeding, which I tend to be very forgetful about. I breathed bilaterally throughout the race and tried to enjoy the river as much as I could, for which I had to change my shaded goggles for some yellow Swedish – yes, I am one of those old-school, pool swimmers.

Three hours down, and I am enjoying some banana and having a lively chat with Mark during my third feed. “Are you going for the course record? I don’t think so, not enough current.”  This is when I look back and realize I am not as alone as I thought I was, and Stephen – the winner of Stages 1 and 2 – is approaching me at a fast pace. “Shit Mark, let’s go, no more feeds for me till the end!”

Before the start, some other swimmer had warned me not to look too much at the finish line – the bridge, as it usually looks closer to what it really is. But after 3h40’ of race, and some serious competition next to me, I only had two thoughts – this Stephen is coming up very strongly and this goddamn bridge is further away every time I look at it. We all have that competition instinct inside us, and I was slightly disappointed to give up in the last 10 minutes a race I had led throughout, but this did not undermine even a bit the feeling of satisfaction I had for completing my longest race ever with very good sensations.

In its seventh edition, 8 Bridges has become a highlight of the Open Water Swimming international calendar, and one that hooks you into badly. My family and friends back home, who were tracking my little red circle during the race, are already asking me if I will sign up for the whole thing next year. “We shall see, there is a beautiful island I need to circumnavigate before that.”

A Love Affair

By Janine Serell

I’m a romantic about swimming, anyone who knows me knows that the Hudson is my favorite water to swim in.   Earlier this week there was a blog about the people who make this event special which we all do in so many different ways, but I think the river is really the star of the show.  The Hudson is the pin-up of rivers; she’s fast and sexy, moody and angry and goes from glass to white caps in the blink of an eye.  I’ve been lucky enough to travel a bit in life and so often when i see one of the ‘great’ rivers of the world i’ve been a tad disappointed, they have all lacked the grandeur of the Hudson.  This is a river that inspired an entire school of painters who were so blown away by her beauty that they sought to immortalize it and share it with those not fortunate enough to visit her, and we get to swim, paddle, cruise and frolic in her, lucky us!

On the practical side the river supports commerce as we swim in her.  There’s something so cool about swimming with giant barges gliding by.  When you volunteer you get to hear the astonishment of the boat captains as someone explains that there’s 19 swimmers in the river going down the west side some of who will swim 120 miles over the course of a week, and if you’re lucky  they’ll even toot their horns in celebration when they see you.   Long freight trains and short passenger  trains snake along the river banks passing you as you swim.  I loved when i lived in the city taking the train to the start of a stage….the early morning sun shining on this bucolic setting would always put me in the right frame of mind to enjoy the river.  She’s not something to be conquered, but rather to be respected and enjoyed.  You can swim with her and in her, but not at her, she will not be bullied.  You need to find her rhythm that morning and match your breath to her’s.
This is my home water, the place i feel the most comfortable swimming.  I swam my 1st mile here in 2010 and have been lucky enough to jump in every year since.  I’m swimming the stages of 8 Bridges easiest to hardest as I’m optimistic that i will continue to improve that little bit I need to make the next bridge each year.    But no matter how my day in the river ends whether beyond the bridge or in a rib I will be eternally grateful that I got to jump in and swim happy in the Hudson again this year.   XOXO

The time has come

By Devon Clifford

The time has come. It’s that time of year again when a group of proclaimed “crazies” strip down to their swim suits, lather up with sticky white pastes of zinc, and press their goggles tightly into their eye sockets as they prepare to take the infamous jump off the bow of Launch 5 and begin their journey down the mighty Hudson River. As the years have gone by, I have fallen more and more in love with 8 Bridges; the people, the guidance, the connectedness to one of nature’s most beautiful elements, and the bridges.

I remember my nerves the first time I jumped in the river to ride the push in Stage 3. It’s a beautiful stage, and the shortest of the week totaling just about 13 miles, so for me at the time it was a perfect starting point. I remember wearing a flamingo printed swim suit as I swam with my father guiding me in his kayak at my side. The water temperature was perfect, I’m sure (at least that’s how I remember it because that is what Kent – SCAR race director – has instilled in my brain as the temperature always, no matter location, time of year, or weather conditions… it is always “perfect!”). I didn’t know enough about nutrition in distance events at the time so I only fed on water and Gatorade, and I probably didn’t get enough sleep that week because I had friends in town from Ireland. None of that mattered in the end though because as much as it was a learning experience, swimming stage 3, albeit slightly under prepared, was one of my first stepping stones into teaching me gratitude for a sport that has become my world.

In the years since my first stage swim of 8 Bridges, I’ve experienced and accomplished swims all over the world but June in the Hudson is by far one of my favorite times and places. I’ve come back to be a part of this event every year since that first stage and hope to be a part of the event for as many years to come as possible. I’ve participated as a swimmer doing one or two bridges, as well as striving for the whole chalupa (is that what Dave was calling 8B for the 7 stagers last year??) and I’ve come back as a volunteer, too. To be a part of 8 Bridges is not just to swim, but to be a part of a family. It truly is a magical time when you allow yourself to embrace not just your swim but the experience of others’ swims, as well. There is so much excitement, so many nerves, so much spirit, and so much love.

You’ll hear constant chatter though out the week about the water temperature (which, like I mentioned, is always “perfect” according to Kent – you’ll want to remember this and maybe allow it to become your mantra) and about things you feel or felt along the way, about the weather, about who is swimming what day, etc. “What is the temperature this morning?” “Do you think it will warm up?” “How are you getting back in the water day in and day out?” My favorite bits of chatter, though… that would be the positivity and the way we lift one another up for what we are about to or have accomplished. There is a spirit you’ll encounter during the week that may be unlike any you’ve been a part of before – a support system more giving than any I’ve experienced outside of swimming. This is after all, as far as I know, the most team oriented solo sport around!

The positivity doesn’t just come from one swimmer congratulating another, it comes from the non-swimmer perspectives as well. It starts at the top as Rondi and Dave have created this glorious river swim for us and you can tell how much they care without words even being a part of the equation. If you pay close attention, their actions will comfort you more than warm water and a sunny day. The passionate guidance from Greg and his crew as he guides us all on Launch 5 goes just the same. Let’s be honest though, what fun would swimming down a river be if you didn’t have someone with whom to share the experience? This is where the positivity of kayak support comes into play. Personally, I know I am the luckiest swimmer in the water when I have Lizzy by my side guiding my way, supporting my needs, and cheering me on… sorry, everyone else! Lizzy, you’re the best.

The emotions and banter all come together and nothing is better than finishing the end of each day with a smile, so don’t forget to bring that with you. As you approach the bridge (don’t sight too soon or that bridge may feel forever away for a very long time) at the end of your first and maybe only stage, or your second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or final stage just remember to enjoy what you’ve just accomplished. Turn over onto your back and take a minute to look up at the beautiful structure you just swam to, and appreciate where you started. We will all have a different experience despite sharing the same water, and somethings may be harder or easier for you during that stage, but the smiles at the end are the best part. Stay strong, swim smart, and enjoy yourself. Don’t get too upset if things don’t go exactly as planned though because no matter what you do in this river, you’ll only be as good as the Mighty Hudson allows!

See you in the water soon. Swim happy, my friends!

How do swimmers train and prepare for 8 Bridges?

By Liz Morrish

The 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim is certainly an event for the experienced marathon swimmer. I was curious about what level of preparation and training the participants were undertaking. I received some very detailed training diaries which gave me a picture of just what it takes to approach a very testing swim series like this. Remember, some swimmers are entering all stages of the swim, others are swimming one, two or three stages.

The average training distance seems to be 30,000-40,000 meters per week. A lead-in of 12-15 weeks seemed usual, with distance gradually increasing from 3-6k per day. On the longer side was 50,000 meters per week for 12 weeks, including an 8 or 9 miler on the weekends. Another swimmer is reaching 45,000 meters per week and will build up to 60,000. A week of 100km in end of April will be part of this individual’s preparation. In the pool, there will be interval training as well as long training swims of up to 5 hours before the event. The experienced swimmer will also focus on technique and efficiency as well as speed and endurance.

While working out 3-4 times a week in a pool, some prefer to swim alone, others enjoy the company and support of doing masters workouts. Surprisingly few swimmers mention coaching as part of their preparation. This was typical “I swim 2 days a week on a Masters team and 2 days a week on my own to train for this event.”

Actual open water preparation has largely been dependent on geographical location. Not everyone is as fortunate as this person, “I swim around 5K every morning with the Bearcat Masters of New York, and I take part in a 10K race every month in the Caribbean.” One swimmer in Massachusetts was itching to get back into open water, but in April it was still in the 40s F (4.5-9.5C). Others alluded to more improvised solutions such as cold showers and baths to aid acclimatisation.

As well as spending long hours in the water, most swimmers will turn to other forms of exercise – cross training is a common feature of preparation. Alongside 3-4 days per week swimming, we see incorporation of roller skiing, running, cycling/spinning, yoga and of course weights into training regimes. Some will have injuries to rehabilitate: “cross training: running, biking, weight training for shoulders to increase stability and avoid injury.” Only one respondent mentioned taking regular advice from a nutritionist.

In terms of previous marathon swims, the SCAR events in Arizona have been a popular foundation for 8 Bridges. These are a series of four, consecutive-day, ‘visually spectacular’ lake swims of between 9-17 miles. However, many of the participants are also veterans of the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, Key West and several other classic long-distance swims.

Due to the tidal nature of the Hudson, each of the 8 Bridges stages demands an early splash time. The early starts will not hinder this enthusiast: “Swim many hours on the weekends. Get up at 4am to swim 2 hours before work 2 days/week, swim less on some other days”.

Although it is more of an individual challenge than a competition, this swimmer has thrown down the gauntlet and has huge expectations of themselves and the experience: “Well, first of all, I’ve been studying the competition. I think knowing the rules and the place can really help me to prepare physically myself. And then I’m picturing the whole thing so I can prepare myself mentally. Testing my limits and knowing my boundaries through the process can make me not only a better swimmer but a better person in this challenge and every other one”. Another view sees this, not as a new and exceptional departure, but almost as a lifetime’s project “I believe your preparation/training starts with your 1st swim lesson when you were a toddler and, in the course of the 7 days, you will call upon each and every day of those many years of training to successfully complete all 7 stages”. Both of these visions are equally valid, and the swimmers will all encounter new and unpredictable challenges and draw on old, practised resources. The week will provide some compelling stories which I, and the swimmers, will be documenting on this blog.




Introducing the 2017 8 Bridges Swimmers

Liz Morrish

We are in the last few weeks of preparation for the swimmers taking part in the 2017 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim. 27 participants responded to a questionnaire, so here is a brief introduction to some of those who are doing multiple stages of the swim.  I hope to introduce the others during the week of the swim. I will also be asking them questions about training, nutrition and staying motivated for this marathon event. As you will see, they are an experienced and well-prepared group of swimmers.

Doing each stage of the swim:

Abby Fairman is 40 and from Turbotville, PA. She works as a marketing director. Previous marathon swims include 8 Bridges Stage 6 (2016, 2015), Catalina Channel (2016) and Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS) (2014).

Harry Finger is 59 and from São Paulo, Brazil. He is an architect, and also owns a soup shop! He has completed an English Channel swim and the 14 Bis in Brazil. The 8 Bridges has given him motivation to continue marathon swimming after knee surgery in 2016.

Marta Mitsui Izo is 47 and from São Paulo, Brazil where she works as a swim teacher. She already has an English Channel swim under her belt, as well as taking part in a Channel Relay England-France-England relay in world-record time.

Edward Riley is 58 and from New York, NY. He has already completed several stages of the 8 Bridges in previous years. What keeps him coming back to 8 Bridges? “It’s the gold standard for marathon swimming. It not only measures your endurance but also speed and uniquely your recovery”.

Flávio Toi is 51 and from Campinas, Brazil where he works as an electrical engineer. He has completed the swim round Key West and also the 40km Tietê river In Brazil. He will be accompanied by his wife and 12 year old son.

Jamie Tout is 64 and from Austin, Texas. He is a retired revenue agent for IRS. Previously completed swims include the English Channel, Catalina Channel, MIMS, Saguro Lake and Canyon Lake of SCAR 2016, and various stages of 8 Bridges. He has also run marathons and completed the Hawaiian Ironman Triathlon in 1981, the same year as his English Channel swim.

Katrin Walter is 39, originally from Germany but now living in Buttikon, Switzerland, where she is a project manager in the financial industries. She has already completed the Lake Zurich Marathon Swim, the 2015 Tampa Bay swim and the Swim around Key West. Her partner will be accompanying her on the 8 Bridges.

Swimming three stages:

Ali Hall is 55 and from San Francisco, CA. She is a trainer and behavior change consultant for helping professionals in life coaching and health coaching. She is a seasoned marathon swimmer, having competed in various locations across the USA. She has had a serious spinal injury, so swimming in the 8 Bridges stages 1, 3 and 4 will definitely be a challenge.

Spencer Schneider is 57 and from New York, NY. He is a lawyer who has completed Sections of 8 Bridges, 20 Bridges and Around Montauk swims. This year he is swimming stages 1, 3 and 5. He is also a triathlete and trail runner.

Swimming two stages:

Erica Flickinger is 38 and lives in Phoenixville, PA where she is an office manager for the Healing Arts Center. This year she is doing stages 2 and 3, and hopes to complete all the stages, in turn, in the future. She has completed two SCAR swims and is now looking forward to a challenge. She will be accompanied by her boyfriend who will be kayaking for her.

Joshua Gordon is 21. He was born in Welwyn, UK but now lives in Phoenixville, PA where he works as a swim instructor. He has previously completed swims around Key West, and the Kingdom 15 mile Border Buster. He is doing stages 4 and 7, and is aiming to gain experience for an attempt at the English Channel.

Stephen Rouch is 36 and from Indianapolis, IN. He is a software developer. Stephen is registered for stages 2 and 3. Since he went to college in Poughkeepsie, he is keen to start and finish there.  He has previously been a SCAR participant.

Eric Schall is 56 and from Kingston, PA where he manages a Ready Mixed Concrete company.  He is coached by Mary Stabinsky (below). He has previously done a number of 10k and 10 mile swims including Lake George, the Potomac River Swim and the Lake Memphemagog 10 Mile. Swimming stages 1 and 5 of 8 Bridges will be a way of stepping up towards his planned 20 Bridges swim round Manhattan in August 2017.

Mary Stabinsky is 40 and from Plains, GA where she is a Financial Analyst/Internal Auditor for an AutoMall. Together with Eric Schall, she is swimming stages 1 and 5 in preparation for a 20 Bridges attempt in August 2017. Mary has previously completed Lake George 10k and Spuyten Duyvil 10k swims.

Mark Spratt is 61 and from Indianapolis, IN where he is a Controller for the Indiana Department of Corrections. He has completed several marathon swims including MIMS, Catalina Channel and SCAR. His most memorable swim, though was the 2013 Ederle Swim, in particular swimming under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. Mark is swimming stages 3 and 4, having swum stage 6 last year. His goal is to do all 7 stages over time.

Paula Yankauskas is 62 and from Hyde Park, Vermont. She is a veterinarian who is a seasoned marathon swimmer with an English Channel swim and a Lake Champlain swim under her belt, as well as many others. She is swimming stages 3 and 4.


by Janet Harris

Friday shortly after 4am I met up with other NYC-based swimmers to travel upstate to swim in Stage 5 of 8 Bridges.  It was a morning with some complicated event logistics.  Swimmers, kayakers, and the smaller support vessels launched from three different locations before converging under Bear Mountain Bridge at splash time, and cars were parked at yet a fourth place near the finish. Rondi’s shuttle van plan to get everyone where we needed to go worked to perfection, and is just one example of the ways the organizers tweak this event to make it better every year.  My kayaker for the day was Terry, who has worked with 8 Bridges from the beginning, and I was looking forward to enjoying her experience and easy camaraderie on the river.

The swimmers rode the main support boat, Launch 5, upriver from Ossining, and we were treated to a reverse preview of nearly the entire 19+ mile course.  It was a beautiful morning, and I enjoyed the view from the bow of the boat while chilling out with friends.  I felt peaceful, confident, and ready to take on the challenges the day would bring. 

Once Launch 5 was under the bridge, Dave pulled alongside on Agent Orange and boarded the boat for a brief safety briefing and course preview.  He had just come from doing the same for the kayakers, who were entering the river from the west and paddling downstream towards the bridge.  Soon we were in the water and off.  Under the bridge away from shore the current was still flooding—I was one of the first off the boat and had floated back a bit during the brief interval before the start—but once underway we moved to the far western shore, hugging the shoreline and enjoying an eddying current that took us swiftly downstream.

It was fun swimming so close to shore—seeing wooded areas, rocky outcroppings, and houses passing by so quickly made it feel like we were making good progress.  Once or twice I had to scull along because of rocks under me, but that was ok.  I used to get creeped out by underwater outcroppings and the possibility of touching things underneath me, but the lake swimming I’ve done the past few seasons has made me braver.  Now I think it’s interesting to swim in depths where you can see the bottom.  That close to shore, I could also feel the vibrations of approaching freight trains, whose tracks ran right by the water—it was really cool to see and hear them zoom by at such speed

I was feeling good, the water was a little warm but still comfortable, and the sun was occasionally peeking out from the clouds.  The river seemed busy, with boats zipping by out in the channel and a big barge floating slowly upriver.  At one of my first feeds, my kayaker explained to me that a passing boat had been on fire, and that Launch 5 had taken on its passengers until help arrived.  We watched a fire boat racing up to the scene while I stopped to feed.

I was loving the day, feeling exuberant, and playing games by making anagrams from the branding on the side of Terry’s kayak (WILDERNESS SYSTEMS).  LET’S SWIM!  ENDLESS SWIMS!  DENSE SWIRLS in the water?  Are those YEW TREES or MYRTLES on shore?  I hoped to avoid any MESSY WRENS or SLIMY NEWTS.

Around 2h30 into the swim I started feeling sick to my stomach.  For some reason I didn’t want to tell my kayaker, but she cottoned on when I started requesting just water for some feeds and telling her I didn’t want to eat any more solid foods.  The nausea, which persisted during the rest of my swim, was a new experience for me, and a surprising one, since I have always used quite a variety of feeds and never before had a problem.  One of my goals for the day was to be proactive at solving problem on the water, working to fix things that could be fixed instead of simply trying to endure them.  I started thinking about what I could do to improve matters.  I drank more water for the next few feeds, thinking that maybe my carbs-to-water ratio was off, and dropped the more substantial feeds (milk, sticky rice concoctions) from my rotation.

The current was beginning to change, and we soon headed out into the channel to take advantage of the increasing ebb.  Here our progress was faster, but less apparent because onshore landmarks were further away.  I liked being in the cooler water away from shore with a bit more movement in it.  At one feed Terry asked me if I could feel the south wind picking up—I couldn’t feel the wind per se, but knew that the sort of wind-against current chop we were experiencing meant that it was blowing stronger.  (The fact that she was having to paddle a little harder, and that the front of her kayak was occasionally out of the water, also clued me in).

Meanwhile I was still having stomach issues, and they were getting worse.  I was feeling weak and little chilled, and my stroke count had decreased.  I needed more calories, but was simply unable to take in much at each feed. Somewhere between 5 and 6 hours I discussed getting out with Terry and she asked me if I wanted to get out right now, or a little later.  I decided that I could swim a bit more.  At this point I was feeling such an aversion to putting anything else in my stomach that I wanted to swim away from the kayak whenever she held up a feed bottle.  I decided to force the issue by gulping down as much of my gatorade/water mixture as I could.  That had the expected result, and I felt a little better for about a half-hour. 

Although I knew I wasn’t swimming very strong at this point, I was still enjoying being in the water.  Large hawks were soaring overhead, and I wondered if some of them were bald eagles.  As a volunteer on Launch 5 during the previous stage, I had seen lots of fish jumping out of the water.  I saw splashes around and imagined they were made by curious fish leaping up for a closer look at us.  During one feed, Terry told me that one jumped right behind me, but I missed it.  Occasionally I saw movements under the water, and wondered what the creatures might be below me.  I was hoping to see a big sturgeon.

We passed Ossining marina, where we had started our day, on the left, and the Tappen Zee was looming far ahead.  We continued making progress, and at one point Terry told me we had an hour until the flood current started, and that if I stroked hard she thought I could make it.  I imagined myself consisting of just arms and legs, with no queasy stomach in between, and tried to move my limbs as strongly and deliberately as I could.  Tobey on the jet ski came by and hovered close for a while, and I saw a boatload of other swimmers who had called it a day being ferried up to Launch 5.  They cheered me on as they passed, and I waved back.

At this point I knew it was becoming more and more unlikely that I would make the bridge by the time the current turned.  Unlike previous stages, where swimmers can creep along shore after the flood starts, construction zones for the new Tappen Zee bridge mean that Stage 5 swimmers must finish near the shipping channel, where the current is strongest.  The south wind would probably hasten the onset of the flood, and although I was still plodding along I was far from my best swimming self at the moment.  All this passed through my mind, but in truth I wasn’t much concerned at this point with whether I finished or not.  All I wanted was to feel better.  I reasoned that if I was feeling this bad, I might as well feel bad in the water (where there was plenty of room to puke) as on a crowded boat, so I just kept stroking along.

At about 8h45 in, we were still a little less than two miles from the bridge when Sean’s RHIB motored up beside us.  Janine told us that lightning had been spotted and that the field was being evacuated.  I think I was too out of it at this point to feel either disappointment or relief.  My kayaker and I climbed aboard, and we picked up a few more swimmers and another kayaker before going ashore.  We were reunited with the rest of the swimmers and our bags at Tarrytown marina.  Once out of the water, I slowly did start to feel better, and eventually was able to eat some of the food I’d packed for after the swim, which perked me up even more.  Some scary weather followed our exit from the river.  Kudos to Dave and Rondi for making the call to pull us, and to them and the boaters and volunteers for getting all the swimmers and kayakers off the river and out of harm’s way.

I was very happy to hear that the two swimmers who have made all the previous stages, Paige and Cheryl, were able to make it to the bridge before the bad weather set in.  They were the only two of the fifteen of us who started who were able to finish the stage.  Another swimmer, Steve Gruenwald, was closer to the bridge than I and seemingly had a good chance of finishing—I had seen his kayaker pass by me about a half hour before we were pulled, and he was looking really strong.  Others hung tough for hours in some challenging conditions and met their personal goals or found new confidence for future events.  Jim Braddock, for one, told me after the swim that it was his longest to date.  Despite the abrupt end, there was lots of good to take home from the day on the river. 

Once I felt better physically, I was able to look back on my day and feel pleased with my efforts.  I took away plenty of positives, learned some things that I can put to use in future swim adventures, and once again got to enjoy the glorious experience of swimming in the Hudson—a win-win-win day after all!

you can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water

By Louise Hyder-Darlington

Beyond swimming, I love to write. I was happy Rondi took up my offer to write up a few words for Stage 6. While training leaves little time for writing, it provides endless hours for swimmers immersed in watery contemplation. Time to contemplate breathing, stroke, technique, fatigue, aging, motivation, fear, friendships, futures, pasts. All jumbled together. This will be my second year swimming stage 6. I swam stages 3 and 6 in 2015. I was dead last for both stages and would not have changed it for the world. I overcame challenges and pushed myself farther than I had thought possible. I guess that is why we love 8 Bridges. The memories I have from last year bring smiles, not fear, to my face, even now. The joy of hearing David coaxing me to the shadow of the second span of the Beacon-Newburgh Bridge, surprised that passing under the first shadow was not sufficient. “Just a little further Louise.” The hearty handshakes from everyone on the boat after finally clearing the Agent Orange ladder … worst part of the swim. Hearing Rondi cheering me on as I finally approached the towering George Washington Bridge. Hearing her call from far off “….you can do it Louise.” Indeed, I did it.

I return to Stage 6 this year because my husband of 32 years wanted to give it a try. As did one of my best and dearest friends as well. They have worked hard. Nailing training swim after training swim. Endless hours immersed in their own contemplation about 15.7 miles down the Hudson River. Why we do it is different for each and every swimmer. I believe this is especially true of those wonderful heroes in the arena who know they won’t be in the front of the pack. Those in the rear swimming their hearts out, terrified of that tide that will turn before they finish. I had those very same shared fears last year and I will have them again on Saturday. It is guaranteed that the river will always give us what we need, not necessarily what we want.

So I guess that is what I wanted to say about Stage 6. It is a long, long swim in one of the most beautiful rivers in one of the most gorgeous places on earth organized and populated with some of the greatest souls in the world. It is never the same swim. Each year the river presents the precious lesson that man is not in control. It is fun and it is frightening and yet we do it every year. And here is a sweet little gem of a quote by the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore. If you are reading this and have run out reasons; run out of dreams … cut this out and tape it to your mirror. Find that sea you have been wanting to cross, grab a friend and jump in. I promise it will be the most terrifyingly wonderful feeling in the world!

“You can’t cross the sea merely by standing and staring at the water.” Rabindranath Tagore, 1861-1941