David Barra, one of the co-founders of the 8 Bridges.

… and this just in… our own LOSTie, Lisa Neidrauer, took part in the second annual “8 Bridges Swim” in New York again!  The swim is put on by David Barra and Rondi Davies, both of whom I met and swam against when I did the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim in 2010… and both of whom are exceptional marathon swimmers… and great people.  Lisa knows them from her MIMS swim too and has been involved with the 8 Bridges from it’s inception.  It looks like a cool swim and format… but I’ll let Lisa tell you about it:

Coming down the Hudson River!!!

The second edition of the 8 Bridges Swim took place from June 25th-July 2nd and I was fortunate to be a part of this epic event that is the longest marathon swim in the world. 8 Bridges is a 7 day, 7 stage race down the Hudson River that begins in Catskill, NY and ends 120 miles later in Staten Island, NY. Each day swimmers begin from bridge that crosses the Hudson River and swim to the next bridge, which can be anywhere from 13 to over 19 miles downriver. The next day begins where the previous day ended; the finish line becomes the start line. Each swimmer gets a dedicated kayaker, and the overall swim is escorted by Launch 5, a restored police boat captained by Greg Porteus of Ossining, NY.

… getting ready for “jump time!”
(click to enlarge)

The event was created by 2 friends of mine, Dave Barra and Rondi Davies and a tremendous amount of work goes into pulling it off… and I’m only talking about the organization part, not the swimming! I had swum 2 stages in the inaugural 2011 event, and stayed on for the other stages to help out with the extensive volunteer effort that happens each day.  Being there for the entire event is an exceptional way to see the Hudson River and its surrounding landscape. The first two stages are meandering and rural, with beautiful lighthouses and lots of treed outcroppings that look perfect for a cottage. The river’s industrial heritage is more evident in the third stage, but is interspersed with marinas and yachts clubs. Stage 4 brings swimmers past some dramatic scenery, including the fantastic Bannerman’s Island, Storm King and Westpoint Military Academy. Stage 5 takes moves past the narrows at Bear Mountain into the wide Tappan Zee. By then, NYC feels close, as we head past Yonkers to the George Washington Bridge on Stage 6. Any of you who have done the Little Red Lighthouse race or Manhattan Island Marathon Swim will be familiar with this section. The final stage,  #7 goes straight down the Hudson, between Manhattan and New Jersey, right past the Statue of Liberty, navigating a (managed) chaos of ferry boats, water taxis, sailboats, barges and tankers to end at the Atlantic Ocean and the Verrazano Bridge.

… the large and jolly crew for the 8 Bridges!
That’s Lisa on the top-right! (click to enlarge)

Costs and lack of training meant that I only signed up for one stage this year, but chose the 19.8 mile Stage 2, thinking it would be a satisfactory challenge. It was! Stage 2, like Stage 1, took place on a cool day this year, which I was happy with as the water was 77 degrees. That’s about 20 degrees warmer than the last time I was in Lake O with LOST! So it felt like bathwater! I was expecting a 6 hour swim, and managed to come in at 5:47. Completed and happy! I spent the other 6 stages as crew on Launch 5 and on a rigid inflatable, doing boat patrol.

The perfect vessel for this kind of adventure!
(click to enlarge)

Most swimmers only do a stage or two, but two swimmers completed the entire 120 mile journey this year: Grace Van Der Byl, from Solana Beach, and Rondi Davies, race co-director, from NYC. Both did amazingly well to get back in day after day and complete each stage. They’ve set new distance records as a result!

For those LOSTies looking for a challenge for 2013, 8 Bridges Swim will be back. While it’s not inexpensive, it is one the most engaging and friendliest swim races out there: a real camaraderie develops among swimmers, kayakers, and crew over the 7 stages. See the 8 Bridges Swim facebook page for more photos; below is a link to a piece in the Wall Street Journal.



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I founded LOST Swimming because I like open water swimming and would like to see it grow and thrive in Lake Ontario. I started as a competitive swimmer as a kid and ended up getting as far as a silver medal at Nationals and going to the Olympic Trials in 1988. But I retired after that, I was sick of swimming. So I got into running marathons and have run over 35 to date, as well as a few ultra marathons, including the Marathon des Sables (7 day, ultra across the Sahara Desert). I also kind of fell into triathlons and have done a handful of Ironman tri's too. This gradually got me back in the water and in 2006 I took the plunge and attempted swimming the English Channel. I didn't quite make it across, but the circle was now complete and after 17 years I was a swimmer again! Although I still do plenty of pool swimming, I now much prefer open water swimming and like to say that open water swimming is to pool swimming, what trail running is to treadmill running! As a result I hope to encourage more people to join me for a dip in Lake Ontario as often as we can!


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