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Laura & Lee's 20 Bridges tandem Swim

On June 23rd Mermaid Laura & training partner and friend Lee Saudan took 9 hours 15 mins to swim the almost 50k swim around Manhattan Island.




This swim is part of the Triple Crown of swims which include English Channel, which Laura completed in 2023, and Lee in 2022, as well as Catalina Channel, which they both hope to take on in 2025.



We climbed aboard our pilot boat on Lower West Side, Manhattan ready to go round to Pier A where the swim begins. Lee's husband Richard was our amazing support crew and had the task of feeding us both, administering medication and providing motivation. We couldn't have done it without him. We had our pilot boat, with observer and a kayaker each, Molly & Nathaniel, who paddled beside us to keep us safe.



As we jumped into the murky waters of the East river at 7:30pm, the estuary was full of heavy boat traffic, jet skis, speed boats, the Staten Island Ferry, sailing boats - the water was the roughest we've ever swum, at this point there was some question as to whether it would have to be pulled due to an oncoming storm, but it fizzled out into nothing. There was no rhythm to the waves, they were coming from all directions throwing us around, pushing us under.

We then had to wait, and tread water to let the Staten Island ferry pass, it stops for no one!


It was shortly after the first bridge I began to get sea sick, I was retching into the water for almost 6 hours, which I can tell you is not fun! The first two bridges came fast, and the light was fading, promising a clear night of swimming.


We then sped round to the Harlem River, a much calmer experience although I was still horribly sick, we ticked off all but one bridge by now, passing the Yankee stadium, the mayor of NY residence, it became darker, with parks lining the river rather than sky scrapers. At one point there was a jet ski without lights speeding towards us, the pilot boat had to race in front of us to stop it going over us, it was a very close call.



We swung round in some very swirly, slightly disconcerting waters into the massive Hudson.



It is now we have the George Washington Bridge in view, our very last bridge. I was starting to feel a bit better, but we still had 3 hours to go, but we were on the final stretch.



Under the bridge, then we battled through the last stretch, the end never seemed to come, we passed the Empire State, then could see the Freedom tower, we knew we were almost there. The rough water started again, the wind changed direction and we had a shoulder breaking swim back to Pier A.



We had done it! We ended 9 hours and 15 mins after leaving at 04:30 It was a really tough swim, we clambered back into the boat to get back to the marina.

Gathered our stuff, and caught an Uber to sleep!


We were raising money for WildFish Conservation, and so far have raised in excess of £6,000. If you'd like to donate or learn more about the UK's only independent charity protecting wild fish and their waters visit www.wildfish.org




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