URBANSWIM Completes Another Successful Year

URBANSWIM Completes Another Successful Year

Deanne Draeger and Gerry Louw founded URBANSWIM in New York City in 2010, and set about to organize swims and races while dedicating themselves to providing safe access to clean water. 

Draeger explains, “URBANSWIM stages open water swims in urban areas as a means of fostering a relationship between people and water.  Our events include the 17-mile Rose Pitonof Swim, the 2.2-mile Liberty to Freedom Swim, and newer swims including the 1.6 km Pride Swim Manhattan held in June, the 1 km Brooklyn Bridge Swim held in July, and the 1.6 km Statue of Liberty Swim held in August.

These events introduce people to the recreational possibilities of their local waterways, and in so doing, raise their awareness of water quality issues.  URBANSWIM’s activities in support of safe access to clean water are not limited to open water swim events, but also support other initiatives including dock sharing, water testing, free kayaking programs, partnerships, and political advocacy.

While URBANSWIM’s first open water swim was inspired by swims made by Rose Pitonof between 1910 and 1913, there have been 451 URBANSWIMs conducted since 2000.  There were 196 URBANSWIMs in the 2010’s and even with the disruption of pandemic, during the first 2 years of the 2020’s, there have already been 190 URBANSWIMs.

At the end of the 2022 season, over 4,000+ km have been swum with URBANSWIM.  Since 2011, 41 swimmers have participated in 2 or more URBANSWIM events and 15 have done 3 or more. 

76-year-old Rich Bernstein has completed 9 consecutive Liberty to Freedom swims, one every year since 2014.  Australian Adam “Juggy” Jug started a year later and has completed consecutive 8 Liberty to Freedom Swims since 2015.  Fordham University standout Steve Sholdra had an incredible streak of 6 Liberty to Freedom victories between 2014 and 2020 before moving to Florida. 

Coach Dan Daly of TrainDaly has completed 3 Liberty to Freedom Swims, the Inaugural PRIDE Swim Manhattan, and the Brooklyn Bridge Swim.  Starting at the age of 17, Simona Dwass won the Rose Pitonof swim and took 3rd in L2F in 2014. Simona also participated in Brooklyn Bridge swim in 2021 and 2022.  Together Simona and her parents, Alba and Michael have participated in 9 URBANSWIM events, and have volunteered for more than 20 events.

Jenn Leyva started swimming with URBANSWIM in 2022 while completing the PRIDE Manhattan Swim, Brooklyn Bridge, Liberty to Freedom Swim, and a 2-person Rose Pitonof Relay named Rose Rage with Nargus Harounzadeh who has also completed the Liberty to Freedom Swim and Brooklyn Bridge Swim.”

For more information and to register for URBANSWIM Summer 2023 events, visit urbanswim.org. Questions can be directed to deanne@urbanswim.org.

Photos courtesy of Angus McIntyre and Paul Frangipane.

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Steven Munatones