Stage 6: The Palisades

No rest for the weary; we were right back in the water this morning. Stage 6 is famous for the currents as the Hudson River narrows and funnels in toward the harbor. The stage started at the New Tappan Zee Bridge and finished at the George Washington Bridge with midtown Manhattan in the distance.

The day was bright and sunny because why not, it was an easy stage. There was a stiff tailwind most of the day, because it was an easy stage and we didn’t need the help. The wind and weather would have come in handy YESTERDAY!

We had been swimming past some smaller towns throughout the swim, but this was the stage where the landscape became progressively more urban. Breathing left, we saw the Palisades on the Jersey side of the shore and lots of trees and forests. Breathing left toward the New York side we saw Yonkers go by, as well as the Spuyten Duyvil bridge. We could see the GW Bridge from the start in the distance, so it was looming over the full stage, gradually getting closer. With a tailwind and a current that peaked around 2 knots we were flying.

Open water swimming is a unique sport. There isn’t another race I can think of where you can actually go in place or even backward at some points or see such tremendously different times by the same swimmers one year to the next. The Beast of yesterday was underscored by the fact that Diego, who finished first yesterday would only finished one minute ahead of the last place finisher from a year ago. The conditions are so variable one year to the next and one day to the next that times really aren’t relevant. If I did my math right I averaged 1 minute and 33 seconds per 100 yards yesterday. Today, on the same river in different weather, wind, and current conditions I averaged 48.9 seconds per 100 yards.

I felt the remnants of the Beast about three hours into the swim. The cumulative effect of the previous five stages were taking their toll and I could feel it. Fortunately we were riding a ripping ebb current, and by then a bag of Doritos could have finished the last three miles of the swim.

So a week into this adventure we are over 100 miles from the starting point in Catskill, NY with the Liberty Stage up tomorrow. We’ll swim past Manhattan, past the Statue of Liberty and finish under the Verrazano Narrows Bridge at the entrance to the New York Harbor.