What is challenging about this swim?
Photo: Me finishing the English Channel in 2013
Like the English Channel, the water temperature of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim presents a challenge. The water temperate for MIMS has ranged from 18.1°C (64.6°F) to 20.2°C (68.4°F) over the past 5 years. Not as cold as the English Channel, however, this temperature is a bit of a shock compared to the average swimming pool temperature of 25°C – 28°C.
The swim is also tidal which presents a unique challenge. Basically, swimmers need to start at the right time, swim with the tide, and get to the point where the Harlem River joins the Hudson River before the tide changes. Otherwise, it is virtually impossible to finish.
Apart from those two big factors, the general weather can have a big impact on the swim and bad weather, has in the past, led to cancellation of the swim mid-race.
To give you a sense of the impact of the conditions, in 2012 all 38 soloists finished the swim (in times ranging from 7 hrs 30 minutes to just over 10 hours. In 2013, owing to a number of factors, only 11 of 39 solo participants finished the swim.