Stage 4: The Highlands

Stage four was a “two for one” special. It was like doing two completely different swims on the same day on the same river!

We jumped at exactly 10AM to begin the trek from the Beacon-Newburgh bridge to the Bear Mountain Bridge. The distance was 15.2 miles. The first five miles was a straight shot down a wide section of the river. For about an hour I had the same song stuck in my head, but at the finish I couldn’t even remember what it was! The middle section of the swim wound its way toward the West Point Campus. We had some spectacular views of the historic site as went around several river bends.

With about five miles to go the conditions went from being smooth and relatively calm to strong, consistent headwinds. This changed the complexion of the swim entirely. We still had a steady current with us, but the wind was unrelenting and a steady 10-15 miles per hour the rest of the way. The sunny skies gave way to an overcast day that lasted the rest of the swim.

We’re told not to look up at the bridges we are swimming to because never seem to get closer. On this stage the punishment for looking up was a face full of water, so the bridge seemed to come up so much more quickly at the finish!

The scenery was still pretty rural, with train tracks on each side of the river. The train horn sounding was enough to jolt us out of our reverie and back to the reality of the river.

The Bear Mountain Bridge is the most rural of the bridges. It was built in 1924 and was, at the time, the world’s longest suspension bridge. The next time we see the Bear Mountain Bridge we will be jumping in for Stage 5. The hardest stage of the swim awaits. Saturday is a rest day reserved in case one of the first four stages was washed out by inclement weather. Now we have another full day to prepare for the Beast!

…And I still haven’t remembered the song from this morning…