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If you can make it there…

Following a long history, the swim around Manhattan Island makes a brand-new start in the very heart of it By Elaine K Howley

It’s been said that there are no new ideas in literature, and the same can probably be said for marathon swimming. In this series, we look into the history of some lesser known events and their modern incrarnations.

On 5 September 1915, a mere four days shy of his 20th birthday, Robert W Dowling Jr took a marathon swimmer’s bite out of the Big Apple. New York City hadn’t quite earned that fruity moniker yet when Dowling stepped into the 68-degree water at the north end of Manhattan Island on that pleasant, late-summer morning and began stroking into the history books, but he certainly set a precedent for what would eventually become one of the most iconic marathon swims in the world.

New York Morning Telegraph sportswriter John J Fitz Gerald is credited with dubbing Manhattan “The Big Apple” in the 1920s in connection with horseracing, so it’s fitting that today a swim around Manhattan – a name derived from an unspecified indigenous language and reportedly meaning “island of many hills” – is one of three that marathoners must complete to earn the Triple Crown of Marathon Swimming, another horseracing-inspired term. And it all started with Dowling’s plucky, if not fast-as-a-thoroughbred, swim in 1915.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

One of the things that keeps me going through the winter is my daily outdoor dip, whatever the weather or temperature. A few years ago this would have been considered pretty odd behaviour by many, but opinions seem to be changing as outdoor swimming and cold water swimming is featured more and more in the media. Indeed, a group of sea swimmers now feature daily on the BBC in the short films between programmes! Find out the story behind the swimmers in our news section. Elsewhere in the magazine we hear from Beth French about her close encounter with a shark in the Molokai Channel, we meet English Channel swimming legends Kevin Murphy and Sally Minty-Gravett and gain an insight into what happens when a swim goes wrong from Mickey Helps’s story of his unsuccessful two-way English Channel swim. I have really been enjoying Terry Laughlin’s series on mindfulness in swimming, which he brings to a close this issue with a look at swimming as ‘moving meditation’. It is a really interesting element to introduce to your training sessions. If you haven’t decided what swims you would like to complete in 2017, check out our event listings. And remember, events are not just for competitive swimmers – a race is only a race if you race it, otherwise it is just a lovely swim. We have some exciting news to share about H2Open – turn to page 27 to learn about our big plans for 2017 and how the magazine is changing. Enjoy the magazine and happy swimming.
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