It is Sunday in the Hudson Valley and the River is quiet. No marathons are being attempted here today, despite the gorgeous summer weather. Things pick back up again tomorrow, today is a much needed rest from the past four days of constant motion.
With the first 66 miles complete, this is on track to be the most successful year of 8 Bridges by many measures. In the first four stages, twenty-two swimmers have started, and all have finished what they set out to do: Mo has completed two consecutive legs, Heather and Ed four, James and Andrew still making progress to seven. Records have been broken in every stage; Dave Farrell set the course record for Stage 4 yesterday on his longest swim to date. The weather has been amazing with nothing more than a gentle tail-wind and some light morning showers to note. The volunteers have been superb, a complex dance of kayaks, patrol boats, and jet skis getting it just right. Success, from any angle.
Rondi and Dave have not just created an event for us to swim. They have created an event that they want to swim. In the past they both have, of course, swum the event and therefore know intimately each leg of the swim and what is needed to complete all seven. But it has become very apparent in the past four days: they still want to swim this event.
From early in the morning, Dave can be found preparing the support craft while Rondi is organizing a stream of kayakers, swimmers, and crew. Through the first hour of each stage, the two can be found hard at work. But once things calm down and the swim is underway, both have been unable to stay out of the water. Each day Rondi has hands off her radio, watch, and clipboard to an able volunteer so she can pace with the lead swimmer for an hour or so. Meanwhile, Dave trades in the helm of Agent Orange for a pair of goggles and hops in as well.
And it isn’t just the two of them that want to be in the water. Numerous support crew have been in and out water during the first four stages, pacing swimmers, escorting by paddleboard, and offering eye-level encouragement. They all want to swim. And that is probably what makes this such a successful event. The people running 8 Bridges can, have, and want to be swimming the event. That’s a good sign.
From a swimmer’s perspective, it is wonderful knowing that the crew cares so much about swimming that they can’t not do it. That all tasks are so under control that an hour swim is possible and there are no frantic last minute emergencies is a sign of a well-organized swim. Seeing Dave or Rondi swim up next to you, seeing that they are willing to literally put themselves in your place, means that you are in a good place. It is very reassuring.
No one should be surprised it has been so successful thus far.
Looking forward to a successful Stages 5, 6, and 7.