NYC - Brooklyn Bridge Swim 2013
January 25, 2013 8:45 AM   Subscribe

Have you participated in the annual Brooklyn Bridge Swim (or other similar NYC SWIM event)? If you or someone close to you has, I have a few questions.

I am signed up for the 7/7/2013 Brooklyn Bridge Swim.

1. Do you have a recommended pool to complete the entry certification? Even after reviewing their website, I'm a little unclear on how exactly I get certified- just run up to a random staff member at the pool and ask them to sign it?
2. Do you have any general tips I should keep in mind? Things I should work on practicing?
3. Is the crowd who participates a friendly one, particularly towards "amateurs" like me? I'm not a great athlete, I'll be wearing a regular bathing suit and I'm probably a pretty slow swimmer; will people scoff at me? I can deal with that and it wouldn't prevent me from competing, but knowing about it in advance would be nice.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The only suggestion I would have is to buy a wetsuit or a tri suit. Even in July, the East River is pretty damn cold.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:55 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

A wetsuit or tri suit will also add buoyancy and make the swim a little easier, so that's another reason to go for one. Just be sure to get it a few weeks in advance and practice swimming in it, making sure you don't chafe, etc.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:10 AM on January 25, 2013

Response by poster: I would really rather not buy another bathing suit (they're hard enough to find as it is in my size and to spend $$$$$ for something I'll wear maybe only once seems silly), but I will consider it.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:13 AM on January 25, 2013

For what it’s worth, I bought my tri suit at JackRabbit last summer; it’s purple and adorable and I wear it all the time to the beach or just a pool party.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 9:24 AM on January 25, 2013

Actually they really encourage you to wear simple things:
We take a very simple approach by instituting some very basic swimsuit eligibility rules. Like baseball with the wooden bat, we favor very basic bathing suit designs in lieu of new fabrics and technologies. This has many benefits, including ensuring that proper swim attire is affordable to all economic strata and available at nearly every sporting goods store, and upholding designs and styles used back in the 1920s when open water swimming was in its heyday.
So yeah, no need to go out and get anything. Though honestly a tri suit would be nice.

WOW I am really tempted to join you in this, though I think I am too scared.
posted by RJ Reynolds at 9:29 AM on January 25, 2013

Best answer: I have swam this course. It's fun and beautiful and the volunteers are nice and it is a very popular first-time swim.

Don't wear a wetsuit. Don't wear a tri-suit. Wear a normal happy suit that you don't mind getting silty. The water will be warm and all the real swimmers will mock you. As long as you are not wearing a wetsuit, the swimmers will be friendly. I know a lot of die-hard NYC open water swimmers and they like to see new people trying it. If they are grumps, it is because they are having a bad season or something and has nothing to do with you.

The in-water start can be a bit of a cluster; just start in the back of the group so people don't swim over you. (It can be terrifying if you aren't used to it.) When you get in, pay attention to the way the current is running (the East River is an estuary, so it changes) and be sure to start well up-current of the first buoy. That way your aren't fighting into the turn.

Practice sighting when you swim in the pool — two / three strokes, look up; repeat. For the qualifying swim, if you have access to the Columbia pool, that would be best — the bored student guards will be happy to watch you and sign it. The Y, too, but a university is easier.

Sometimes when you get out on the Manhattan side, there is a line to cross the mat. Be ready when it is your turn — people behind you want their time soon too.

Anyways, call me dude, and we can talk in real life. :D
posted by dame at 9:38 AM on January 25, 2013

Best answer: 2. Do you have any general tips I should keep in mind?

I want to start out by saying, "Go for it!" Open water swimming is super fun and if I were still in NYC I would definitely do this. You're gonna love it. With that out of the way, here's some stuff to help you be prepared:

One difference between open water and pool swimming is that the distances are much larger in open water. I know, duh, but here's the thing: When you're in a pool, as you approach the wall you see it getting closer. When you're out in open water, even with buoys spaced relatively close together, it can feel like you're not making any progress. You'll swim swim swim, sight, swim swim swim, sight again, and think, "I haven't gone anywhere!" It can be pretty unnerving. Just relax and be patient. You will get there.

Also, from my experience this past year doing triathlon I found a lot of my fellow triathletes at one point or another had a panic moment in an open water swim, myself included. It really does feel like an almost entirely different thing than being in the pool. One thing I think you can do to help yourself prepare is to occasionally, while you're doing your pool swim workouts, is flip over on your back and just chill out. Get it into your head that if you're having a bad time mentally, your first response should be to flip over and take some yoga breaths.

As dame said above, start at the back of the pack. The 20 seconds of bar fight that often happens at the start of open water swims can be pretty intimidating for first timers. Consider swimming on the outside of the group so you're less likely to get a foot in the face. And know that once you pass the first buoy the crowd usually thins out.

Finally, in addition to sighting, practice bilateral breathing in the pool. If you only know how to breathe out of one side and that's where all the splashy splashy is, it can be a little intimidating.

Have fun!
posted by funkiwan at 12:14 AM on January 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The website states the water will be 70-75 degrees, which will feel chilly at first but once you start working it you should be fine. The other point to raise here since I could not tell your background, is the swim cutoff time = 45 minutes. This is only .6 of a mile and 45 minutes should be plenty of time but....
If you are not comfortable without a wetsuit
If you are not comfortable in open water
If you are not in shape for this
Or any combination of the above - you will want to work on these items ahead of time. Open water swimming can be a frightening experience to some - and race day is not the time you want to learn this.

Per the wetsuit, there is some good nature teasing that takes place in the open-water world (wetsuits are in the disabled division, etc.). If getting you into the open water world to try it requires you use a websuit, go for it. Just wear a thick skin that day. But circling back to being comfortable - don't make this your first non-pool, open water swim. Get comfortable in a situation with lots of people around you, thrashing about and you can not see the bottom - only seeing darkness.

Others may suggest a different distance, but I would get comfortable swimming a mile in a pool before doing this 1k open water distance. Use that as a guide post, my concern is you don't get tired at this distance while out in open water. Being able to swim .6 in a pool is not the same.

Have fun - swimming open water is a blast and a skill to be learned.
posted by fluffycreature at 1:07 PM on February 25, 2013

Response by poster: Late update: the swim was this morning and I finished in plenty of time! I was one of the slowest people but I made the cutoff with plenty of time to spare and had a great time enjoying the view.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 2:28 PM on July 7, 2013

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