Open Water Swimming In, Near, And Around New York City

Open Water Swimming In, Near, And Around New York City

Open water swims in, near, and around New York City in the 20th century ranged from the early pioneers like Robert W. Dowling in 1915 (13 hours 45 minutes) and Ida Elionsky in 1916 (11 hours 45 minutes) to competitive races organized by Drury Gallagher, Tom Hetzel, and Morty Berger in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

The community has continued to grow, especially over the last decade. New York Open Water, run by David BarraRondi Davies, and Alex Arévalo, has provided remarkable leadership and ample opportunities for marathon swimmers around the world to swim long in, near, and around New York City.

In 2022, 89 marathon swims were safely and successfully completed including 100% of all 20 Bridges and 40 Bridges swimmers. One record was set during the 2022: John Zemaitis and Joe Zemaitis broke the Reverse 20 Bridges record by 16 minutes.

 The 2023 NYOW calendar is available here and includes four major marathon events:

Registrations will begin in early January and will be open for one month. Registrations for paddlers, observers, and support crew is planned to open in the spring.

Prices will be higher than the 2022 season when prices for solo swimmers were US$4,600 for 20 Bridges, US$8,500 for 40 Bridges, US$12,000 for 8 Bridges, and US$3,000 for Ederle-Burke with some lower rates for age 25 & under swimmers and tandem swimmers. The fees cover a support boat, a paddler, an observer, and GPS tracking.

Interested swimmers not currently in the NYOW contact list can sign up here.

For more information, visit

Courtesy of The NYOW Team

New York Open Water is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides safety, support, and funding for open water swimming and kayaking programs and events while advocating for better stewardship of New York State’s natural water resources and promoting public access to these waters. 

Photo above shows Lauren Byron in her 14 hour 36 minute Reverse 20 Bridges Around Manhattan Swim.

Steven Munatones