Stage 2: The Lighthouses

While it’s officially titled “The Lighthouses” the second stage of 8 Bridges has acquired other less official names by a number of the swimmers! With the first day distance of 18.3 Miles and today billed as 19.8 miles you might be thinking “how much harder can 1.5 miles be?”

To answer that question you see finish times that were 1.5 to 2 hours slower for the same swimmers yesterday. An additional challenge of this event is the current window. This varies based on the day, but today we had a shade under 7 hours of the ebb (outgoing) tide. If you’re still swimming when the flood (incoming) tide starts then the last section of the swimmer is not a lot of fun!

We jumped early, about 30 minutes before our projected start time so we would start the swim with an incoming tide. While it would mean we had to fight the current initially, it provided a better shot at finishing before the flood tide. It’s easier to fight the current at the beginning when you are fresh than try to slog through an increasing current at the finish!

What made this swim harder than yesterday’s is that there were parts of the river that widened, lessening the current. An additional challenge was having to move out of the main channel for several large barges. The current is strongest at the deepest parts of the river so that is where we wanted to be. Unfortunately, the ships want that deep water as well and since they are bigger they win!

As we came around a final bend in the river, about three miles from the finish, the final bridge came into view. This is a mixed blessing. While seeing the finish line gives hope, it always appears way closer than it actually is. A rule of thumb to estimate how long it will take is to eyeball the distance and guess at a time. Then take that number, add a little bit…and double it!

Tomorrow we have the shortest stage of the event. It’s all a matter of perspective. You know the first two days have taken a toll when you think…”only 13.2 miles, that’s barely worth getting my hair wet”