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Swimming in the city that never sleeps

Updated: Nov 13, 2023

As I am writing these lines, I can't keep Frank Sinatra's song "New York, New York" out of my head. Except that not only I want to wake up in a city that never sleeps, I want to swim in, or rather around it, as well. I bet Sinatra never had that in mind!

Yes; my next big swimming adventure, after Oceanman World Championships next weekend, will be swimming around Manhattan Island on August 19. The official name of the swim is 20 Bridges, and as the name applies, I will be swimming under 20 Bridges around Manhattan Island, starting with George Washington Bridge and ending with Brooklyn Bridge. The swim is 45.9K, but because of the strong current, it is possible to complete it in less than 10 hours.

This swim will be a challenge for me for two reasons: First, even though I have completed the marathon distance 42K in the pool in 24 hours, as part of a special race in Germany, I did that distance in 3 parts, as 15K 15K and 12K, resting 3-4 hours between each interval. 20 Bridges will therefore be my longest non-stop swim to date.

Second, I will be doing this swim as tandem with Emre Deliveli. The rules stipulate that we should never be more than 5 meters away from each other for the whole swim, so we need to make sure we can swim at the same pace for a long time. We swam from the Greek island of Symi to the Turkish town of Datca in August 2018, and we were able to swim in harmony. But the distance is much longer this time, so we will be meeting in Marmaris at the end of December to swim 6 hours together at 18 degrees.

In addition of Emre, Yasemin Bagana, my North Channel and English Channel relay teammate, will be swimming 20 Bridges as well- in fact exactly one day before us. Our coach Kamil Resa Alsaran, who completed 2o Bridges in 2018, will be there to support us as well. The only person missing from our wonderful (and successful) summer 2019 gang is Raha Akhavan, who is patiently waiting for a slot to open up for her English Channel Swim in 2020. Who knows, maybe she'll decide to join us and swim tandem with Yasemin.

And by the way, this is not my only planned big swim next summer. I am planning another one with the same team; once that gets confirmed, I will be announcing it here in the blog as well. But for now, suffice it to say that it involves an arguably "greater" challenge- let me know if you guessed where hope to swim in after Manhattan :)


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