New York City
Loud, fast and pulsing with energy, growing up in New Zealand scenes of NYC were only those seen in movies, high fashion, high finance, immigrants from around the world struggling to make a new life and now I am about to experience New York city amphibian style, from the land and the water.
About New York
One of the many things I love about swimming in different places around the world is learning about the area, history teaches us not only of the area, but also of the people, those that lived many years ago and those of today, also about ourselves.
So what of New York, if I am to circumnavigate Manhattan I want to know more about this island that is home to over 8 million people.
In 1609 Dutch West India Company employee Henry Hudson arrived, settling in Lower Manhattan which was then called New Amsterdam a trading post was set up, good start now I know why the ” Hudson River” is named the ” Hudson River”! In 1664 the English arrived in battleships taking charge of the colony, King Charles ll named the area after his brother, the Duke of York, now we have ” New York”.
The colony flourished, economy boomed and the locals became resentful of sharing the wealth with England, next a big revolutionary battle, General George Washington lost many of his men and retreated, much of the city was engulfed in fire, the English left and Washington reclaimed the city, now I have the scoop on the naming of ” The George Washington Bridge” my last bridge of the course, the Manhattan Island Marathon swim course is starting to become more and more familiar to me the more I learn.
In 1811 Manhattan’s grid plan was developed, shaping the city, I can follow the street numbering on my map of my upcoming swim and see the large green expanse of Central Park which was started in 1855, what a vision and gift to future generations to come. Soon after came the Brooklyn Bridge which opened in 1883, designed by John Roebling the bridge took 14 years to construct, strong and beautiful this bridge continues to dazzle both pedestrians and motorists and soon me as I swim underneath the famous Brooklyn Bridge.
With improvements in infrastructure and great financial growth also came new conflict, tensions among old and new immigrants, poverty and crime, from 1892 until 1954 Ellis Island processed an amazing 12,000 immigrants a day from countries including Ireland, England, Germany and Austria to name a few, many escaping their homelands for the hope of a better life for some as a necessity to survive.
The Statue Of Liberty
One of the most recognisable icons in the world, I have seen pictures of Lady Liberty growing up, yet I have not felt her reach, I read to find out more about this symbol off freedom. She is made out of 31 tons of copper, standing 93 meters from the ground to torch tip, the artist spent 20 years turning his dream to create a monument into reality, there were financials problems, fund raising efforts were helped by this poem which was published in 1883
” The New Colossus” – Emma Lazarus
Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
These famous words were added to the base 15 years after the poets death in 1903.
In 1931 the Empire State Building became the tallest building in the world, after the war midtown grew up literally with skyscrapers, banker David Rockefeller and his brother Governor Nelson Rockefeller dreamed up the Twin Towers downtown, the financial epicenter of Manhattan and to many an iconic symbol of world finance.
In 1945 the United Nations headquartered on Manhattan’s East side the shinny building clearly visible from the lower East River. Stock Markets boomed for much of the 1980s, later in the century pro business Mayor Rudy Giuliani headlined with his campaign to stamp out crime and clean up even the seediest of streets.
It would not be possible to consider the course without mentioning September 11th, 2001, terrorists flew two hijacked plans into the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers, killing nearly 2800 people, altering the skyline and New York forever. Such terror drew the people of New York together, New Yorkers are strong, tough and proud and I am looking forward to visiting their great city and them for the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim 2013, this is about much more than just swimming 28.5 miles around Manhattan this is about perseverance in the face of adversity and not giving up.
Time to travel to New York, the race meeting is tomorrow at 1:00pm, today Kate Graves and I fly to New York together, Kate has been supporting me with body and energy work since 2010, she has a healing touch, knows my body well and has been with me through the highs and lows of my training, I struggle to imagine these past adventures without her and I am thrilled she is willing and able to travel to NYC, as it turns out she grew up in the city, I am fascinated at hearing the ins and outs of growing up in Manhattan as a young whipper snapper as we travel to the ” Big Apple”.
I have to also let you know how fortunate I have been to be the guinea pig for Bill Kules of Little River Massage Therapy as he completed his student training earlier this year, Bill was looking to log some massage hours as he completed his massage therapy education, he became my hidden gem, I found myself looking forward to his marathon massage sessons, his strong hands were able to encourage my tried muscles to relax and repair after some of my heaviest training sessions in preparation for my Ice Swim and NYC, he started as a student and ended as a seemless professsional. I am grateful to have had the support of both.
Kate and I admire Lady liberty on our arrival…..
Kate helps me settle into to my hotel and we head out to get some food, after we say our farewells and I head up to my room, it overlooks Wagner Park and looks out to Lady Liberty, I shower and wrap myself up in a white fluffy robe enjoying the luxury for in just over 24 hours a warm robe, comfortable bed and puffy pillows are going to be but a distant memory as I slide myself into the waters of the East River that currently measure 59 degrees fareignheight, I gaze out the window as the sky darkens and notice Lady Liberty fading to grey, then I notice a faint glow of her torch, it gets brighter and brighter, soon her base is brightly lite, she stands tall through in darkness and daylight, i study the course one final time before I drift off to sleep, Lady Liberty is parallel to the finish of the swim, I am going to being swimming home to her.
Will I sleep sound, or dream of cold waters and driving rain?I’ll keep you posted and let you know of our race meeting and final preparations pre swim tomorrow, sleep tight!