South African Roger Finch On Swimming Manhattan

South African Roger Finch On Swimming Manhattan

Half Century Club member Roger Finch of South Africa arrived in New York one week before the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim together wit his English Channel support team.

I met up with Jeff Ackerman, my paddler, and Tony Pascucci, my boat captain for the swim the morning of the swim at Battery Park. I started in wave 3 and decided to stick close to the Battery wall from the start at South Cove in the Hudson until we were into the East River.

When I moved into the East River, I moved out into the middle of the river and met up with my boat. This worked out for me as I found some good currents and was swimming with the front five until Hell Gate.

This [stretch of water] took some strain to get through. Once I swim into the Harlem River, my arms were aching. I thought, ‘That’s 2 hours; how am I going to make another 6 hours?’

I relaxed the stroke, eased the pull a bit and felt fine after 10 minutes. I was enjoying the swim, looking at the skyline and the bridges. My favorite was the Brooklyn Bridge which was followed by the Empire State Building, United Nations Building and Chrysler Building.

About halfway up the Harlem River, I heard Nora Toledano say hi as she was paddling with her swimmer next to me. It was a great lift as the last time Nora, we were together after my English Channel crossing celebrating in The White Horse Inn Dover.

The Harlem River was quite and smooth most of the way until I reached the top of Manhattan entering the Hudson River. The water had a lot of chop and waves which were static and not going in any direction. It was just a big turmoil of water. Once I got into the Hudson River, I headed out towards the middle to try and hopefully pick up a good current. But it was not to be as I stayed at much the same pace as the swimmers closer to shore. After a while I swam under The George Washington Bridge which is massive.

The Hudson River is very wide so when combined with the size of the Washington Bridge you feel as if you are not going anywhere. It was much the same as in the Channel who has just left Dover where the cliffs don’t get any smaller.

But soon I had picked up a fairly good current and left the swimmers closer to shore behind and passed another two who were in front of me.

Coming into downtown Manhattan I swam passed the Concord and the USS Intrepid Aircraft carrier. What an awesome site from the water.


From the Intrepid I only had one feed left before entering South Cove at the finish. There was a nice crowd there clapping and cheering from the Battery.

He finished in 8 hours 14 minutes.

Open Water Source