Mark Warkentin Wins, But Falls Short of World Record

Mark Warkentin Wins, But Falls Short of World Record

American Olympian Mark Warkentin started out fast – very fast – in today’s Manhattan Island Marathon Swim – World Record Attempt, but he paid for it just after the two-hour mark.

I wanted to start off fast and push the pace against Petar [Stoychev]. But I was carried by adrelanin and then things started to crash. Right when Petar can up to me, I was getting my speech ready about how it is not so bad to lose to a guy like Petar.”

But Mark’s speech was never required.

At one point when I was not feeling good and ready to pack it in. But Petar stopped for a feeding and he then in the blink of an eye, he went left and I went right. Suddenly, we had a 25-yard separation – not that I was necessarily ahead of him by 25 yards, but that we were simply separated by 25 yards. That gave me a second wind.”

And that second wind eventually carried him to victory in 6 hours 16 minutes 37 seconds to Petar’s time of 6:28:23 and 6:43:25 for Rondi Davies.

It was a victory over the English Channel record holder and three-time Olympian from Bulgaria, but he still feel far short against the world record of 5:45 set in 1995 by Shelley Taylor-Smith. Mark was ahead world record pace until rather late into the race, but marathon swimmers know well to always expect the unexpected. After Mark reached the five-hour mark, he still had a good shot at the record. But coming up the last stretch in the East River, the wind and chop of the day and night took their toll and was eventually too much – and the bar that was set by Shelley remained safe, at least for another year. “It was tough swimming at night. Sometimes, I could not even see my kayakers [who were on either side of me]. They gave me hand signals and I couldn’t even see which way to go.”

Left or right, the swimmers were protected by a cocoon of protective kayakers and escort boats. But however good the navigation was, in order to break the record, everything needed to fall perfectly. But today the weather was not cooperating as the swimmers traveled vertically for much of the race fighting waves and navigating through tricky currents. “As we came around Battery Park [near Wall Street in lower Manhattan], I was waiting for that last current. My kayakers told me that we had a half mile to go, so I was thinking it would take my 8-10 minutes. But it was another 20 minutes before reached the finish.”

But I am happy to win. The record was going to take care of itself. The important thing was to beat Petar, the greatest maraton swimmer [over the last 10 years]. Now I am ready to get back to normal marathon swimming – where I can see the turn buoys, swimmers around me and race in daylight.”

Mark started in daylight, finished in night time and will have a lifetime of memories to recall from his swim around Manhattan.

Copyright © 2010 by Steven Munatones
Steven Munatones