Many thanks to open water adventurer and SwimSwam contributor, Jake R. Bright, for this feature story.
Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers, better known as CIBBOWS, kicked off their 2013 season with the Two Bridges 2.5K and 5K swims in Poughkeepsie, New York. While many know the Hudson River Valley town by driving or walking over its historic overpasses, I joined open water competitors for an exclusive tour, swimming around the panoramic Mid-Hudson and Walkway bridges.
“The Mid-Hudson Region offers CIBBOWS swimmers a great opportunity to expand their open water experiences with fresh water and small town scenery,” said co-race director Dave Barra. “Poughkeepsie’s a great location to open our 2013 open water season.”
Two Bridges is one of several unique open water competitions – nearly all accessible by train or subway from Manhattan – offered by the New York City based CIBBOWS. These include New York Aquarium Triple Dip ocean events and 120 mile, 8 Bridges seven stage swim. I made a day of the Poughkeepsie race, taking the Metro-North train from Grand Central Station up the picturesque Hudson River route on the sunny 90 degree day. The hot humid conditions made the low 60 degree water refreshing, even without a wetsuit. The bridges served as scenic sighting next to our usual orange buoys.
Overall women’s and men’s 2.5K winners were Rebeccah Wassner (see profile) and Arthur Boyko, while Susan Knight and Ed Stoner hit shore first for 5K victories.
Grass roots competition is about its people and CIBBOWS’ opener brought out some pillars of New York’s open water community. Swim guru and Total Immersion founder Terry Laughlin won his age group in the 5K. John Humenik, known for plenty of top finishes in area waterways, served as a volunteer next to venerable competitor, co-race director Rondi Davies. Hannah Borgeson, NYC Swim’s Registrar and Community Support liaison, was second female in the 5K. I managed to meet a number of OWS’ unique competitors (see profiles), while adding some post-race tourism. A late afternoon stroll over The Hudson Walkway provided the rare occasion to walk over the swim course raced earlier in the day.
CIBBOWS has plenty more aqua action in store this season. Check out their new Bannerman’s Island sightseeing swim and training programs for new and experienced and OWS competitors: CIBBOWS.
Jake R. Bright is a New York City based writer & producer. He covers business, economics, Africa, music, skiing, and open water swimming.