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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Almanac/Big Apple Splash

Air Date: Week of

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This week, we have facts about the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. June 14th is the date of the annual aquatic race, a 28.5-mile lap on the Hudson and East Rivers.


CURWOOD: Welcome back to Living on Earth. I’m Steve Curwood.

[MUSIC: Soulive “Nealization” Turn it Out Velour Recordings (2000)]


CURWOOD: Come on in, the water’s fine.

That’s the line from the sponsors of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. Intrepid swimmers have raced around the borough each year since 1982. And while many may cringe at the thought of dipping a toe in the rivers of New York City, the water hasn’t been this clean in almost a hundred years. Thanks to vastly improved sewage treatment, state bathing standards have been satisfied.

Still, the 28.5 mile swim is not for the faint of heart. Swimmers dive in at Battery Park, stroke up the East River with the tide at their backs, and come home on the Hudson. Along the way they face some hair-raising hazards. Seaplanes splash down near 23rd Street, and a sewage plant near 145th Street could suck in the unwary. And, of course, there are barges, cruise ships and unidentified floating objects to watch out for.

The record time for the swim is five hours and 45 minutes. In 2001, 27 individuals and eight relay teams took part. Those numbers dipped last year, partly due to fears of contamination from the September 11th attacks. But officials have given the all-clear, and there are plenty of contenders expected for this year’s race.

And for this week, that’s the Living on Earth Almanac.



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