Friday, Stage 2: From the Wheelhouse

By Liz Morrish

Captain Greg Porteous, is an ex-New York State Trooper who restored his craft Launch 5 “The Patrolman Walburger” and named it for a police officer who lost his life saving two women in the Harlem riots of 1964. This swim simply couldn’t take place without Greg. He can identify when the tide turns from flood, to slack, to ebb. He knows where to find the fastest flow of the current, and he negotiates with the commercial river traffic so that the swimmers are not mown down. Not all craft are amenable to negotiation, however. One launch came unnecessarily close to our lead swimmer today. By contrast, a thoughtful captain of a river barge offered to slow down, saying “if I was swimming I wouldn’t want waves”. Greg also keeps the wheelhouse warm in case a cold swimmer need rapid rewarming. He is well aware of the signs of hypothermia and will keep the casualty chatting to make sure they are coherent.

Roy Malinak is the father of a former 8 Bridges swimmer, Andrew Malinak, and acts as first mate to Greg. Roy is on hand to strongarm the kayaks onto the boat or into the water. He’s first in line for welfare of the swimmers returning to the boat at the end of the swim. And he brings food on board with him, and is ready to share.

We are joined today by Stephen Rouch Senior, father of the lead swimmer of Stage 1 and 2. Yesterday he was kayaking, but today he has relinquished that to someone else and is helping Roy.

Rondi Davies – race co-director and monitors the state of the overall swim, monitors the stroke count of swimmers and times the feeding intervals.

Me – Liz Morrish, I get to watch the race in comfort from the wheelhouse, the stern or wherever has the best view and is out of the breeze. My job is to document each stage and the stories of the day. And I marvel at these extraordinary swimmers and the crews that support them. This is one magnificent event.