Manhattan Island Marathon Swim route, counter-clockwise
On June 24, 2006, the intrepid Credit Suisse Corporate Relay Swim Team braved the waters around Manhattan, competing for the fourth time in the annual Manahattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS) while raising money for charities in the Americas, Europe and Asia.
To date, thousands of men and women from all corners of the world, whether solo or as part of a team, have completed the 28.5 mile swim that goes full circle from the South Cove up the East River, accross Manhattan through the Harlem River, and down the Hudson to finish back at the starting point.
Strictly controlled and well executed, the MIMS, along with ten other shorter distance swims, is organized by the Manhattan Island Foundation, Inc. (MIF). MIF is a 501c3 founded in 1993 to support and expand public Lean-to-Swim programs throughout New York City and aid the efforts to clean and protect the waters that sorround New York. Having swum through the flotsam and jetsam in the rivers around Manhattan on four different occassions, I can certainly vouch for the indispensability of the latter.
Of course, the fundraising efforts alone offer a swimmer no guarantee of buoyancy nor do they propose to propel him of her through the cold, murky water to the finish line at the South Cove. When you put on your cap and goggles and are about to take the plunge, you need to know that you are both physically and mentally ready for the challenges that lie ahead.
As one of the 14 swimmers chosen for the 2006 Credit Suisse Corporate Relay Swim Team after a lenghty and rigorous selection process that involves a careful examination of over 40 candidates' applications, here is what you would expect to encounter on race day:
In the true athletic spirit, the competing endures while the swimming endures. You want to swim faster than the swimmer next to you, faster that you ever did before.
Almost immediately after you dive in, you realize that for the most part you are oblivious to your surroundings. What do you do? You trust the kayaker paddling alongside you to lead you through the safest and quickest path. The kayaker is your eyes and ears, your guide and guardian, your navigator. When somewhere in the middle of the Hudson River he suddenly begins to scream and whistle like a drill sargeant and franticallly smacks the paddle against the water inches before your face, he is not gently encouraging you to try and admire the sublime beauty of the New Jersey shore – he is bringing to your attention that huge barge coming right at you!
A couple of miles down the river, providing you did get to swim away from the barge, a teammate dives in and you find yourself back on the boat again. Manhattan looks magnificent even if the rain and the cloud-darkened skies have somewhat discolore it. Impressive still, the images of this live, constantly changing, always new and unique postcard stretching before you continue to linger in your mind long after you complete the swim. They become ingrained, a part of the special, cherished memory.
Between the moments of cheering on my teammates while gaining back my strenght to hit the water again, consuming peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Gatorade, and admiring the vistas, I found a bit of time to reflect on the noble purpose of the swim, the interesting global composition and synergy of our team, and the meaning of the here and now. Swimming the MIMS is, without a doubt, one of the most special, worthwhile and memorable events of my life. I felt profoundly content.
I also felt thankful to people who dedicated their time and talent and made this opportunity happen: MIF staff and volunteers who organized the swim, MIMS founder Drury Gallagher, K. McD. who brought the idea of Credit Suisse's Swim Team competing in this event to fruition and was instrumental in establishing the Corporate Relay category of the MIMS, J. G. Of the CS Americas Foundation who helped put this year's team together, S. M. Who expertly handled innumerable important details allowing things to flow smoothly, the intrepid swimmers, some of whom traveled a great distance to brave the rivers around Manhattan in support of various charities, and finally, the friends and collegues who supported our fundraising endeavor.
I strongly encourage all interested collegues to try for the next year's team – all the hard training and fundraising efforts are rewarded by many wonderful, lifelong memories.