Manhattan Island Swim Called Off Due to Pollution; 60 Swim Anyway -- June 16, 2003
By Phillip Whitten
NEW YORK, NY, June 16. FOR the first time in its 21-year history, the annual Swim Around Manhattan marathon was called off yesterday due to pollution resulting from runoffs from the recent rains.
But what's a little pollution to swimmers who battle chilly waters, monstrous waves, noxious jellyfish and assorted other denizens of the deep?
Apparently, it's only a minor concern. Undaunted by the official cancelation, some 60 intrpid souls, ranging in age from 20 to 72, dived into the 62-degree water at 7 a.m. for the 28.5-mile aquatic jaunt.
"It's not healthy for people to go into the water," protested Morty Berger, the founder of the Manhattan Island Foundation, which sponsors the race. "If this were a public beach, it would be closed."
Swimmer Enrique Alvarado confirmed that analysis after he finished the race. "It was dirty," he agreed. "There was a pole, garbage and some other things."
The unofficial race was won by Stephen Klugman of South africa in 7 hours 45 minutes. Last year's winner, Emily Watts, of Maryland, dropped out during the swim.
"it would have been better if it had been an official race," Klugman acknowledged, "but I'm very happy."
Klugman beat out MIT student Nick Sidelnik, who led most of the way. A member of MIT's undefeated Div. III swim team last year, Sidelnik is gearing up for an English Channel crossing.