I first started the onerous application process with another organisation who, at the time, were the only organisers of this swim. Some months after sending off my application and my deposit, it became apparent that this company was no longer going to honour the swim, or the deposit! This left about 30 swimmers quite literally high and dry and out of pocket!
I was actually in New Zealand awaiting to swim the Cook Strait, a swim that didn’t get off the ground due to inclement weather – one of the frustrations of this sport! Roger was going to swim this with me but, instead, came to the rescue for my Manhattan swim. He phoned his friend David Barra, a legend of a swimmer and organiser of several big New York swims already. “David, hey, how are you? David, I need you to organise a Manhattan Island swim for my friend Tracy Clark”! David’s response was a flat “No”! After several calls, emails and stalking on Facebook – David agreed to organise a swim for me which I will be eternally grateful for. He asked Roger when could I be in New York and Roger said “August the 15th as it’s my birthday (Roger’s birthday).” A plan was born! I would swim Manhattan Island on the 15th of August. Roger and Lindsay would crew for me. Then five days later, Lindsay and I would crew for Roger for the Boston Light swim. After our plans were laid, Jim Clifford offered to come and join us and crew for both swims!
This was a very significant swim for me. In open water swimming there is a challenge called the Triple Crown. To achieve the Triple Crown you must swim the English and Catalina Channels and circumnavigate Manhattan Island. No New Zealander had ever achieved this, so I stood to be the first Kiwi to do so as I had already completed the English and Catalina Channels.
We arrived in New York on the Friday morning, giving us a few days to settle before my big swim on the Monday morning. I say again and again and again about the camaraderie in this amazing sport! A swim friend of Roger’s offered us a house, a great house, to stay in in Brooklyn – thank you Mo! So very generous of you! We also enjoyed many meals with Mo and his swim friend Eri. Again, thanks so much for your hospitality and friendship.
I had never been to New York before. There was a real temptation to rush around and see all the sights but of course that would be madness before such a big challenge. New York was also having a heatwave! Temperatures were soaring in the late 30s!
On the Saturday morning we swam at Brighton Beach with the CIBBOWS (Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers) and I had the pleasure of meeting gutsy swimmer Capri. What a pleasure. Another highlight was lunching with Charlotte Samuels and her lovely family. Roger and I had crewed for her across the English Channel two years earlier at the tender age of 16. What a wonderful open water family I now have!
We did manage to squeeze in Grand Central Station (with Orion and his famous belt lit up on the ceiling), Times Square, the Statue of Liberty and a very special surprise.
Gertrude Ederle Grave.
Gertrude Ederle Grave with Roger Finch.
Manhattan Island Swim Boat appropriately named No Problem.