Photograph before 2003 swim, l-r: Angela Lang, Phil Weinstein and John Forasté (photo courtesy Phil).
Dates: Summers of 1996-2010 (+2018).
Route: Across the East Passage (shipping lane) of lower Narragansett Bay from Newport to Jamestown.
Distance: 1.7 miles (when swum in a straight line).
Swimmers: John Forasté and now over 400 others.
Kayakers: Volunteers line the outsides of the course for the 1st wave of swimmers who swim solo. In the 2nd and 3rd waves, each swimmer has his or her own personal kayaker or rower accompany him or her across.
Times and Conditions by year (1st place times are included for reference):
Ok conditions. Time: 01:14:17 (1 hour 14 minutes 17 seconds). (I didn't record my place.)
Calm, but freezing water. Time 54:22. Place: 87th out of 197
(1st place time: 33:55).
Extremely choppy. Time 59:58. Place: 81st out of 256
(1st place time: 39:35).
Smooth water and comfortable temperature. Time 47:21. Place: 75th out of about 262
(1st place time: 34:53).
Cold water at start, then ok; mildly choppy water, then rough. Time 50:23. Place: 60th out of about 250
(1st place time: 36:07).
Good conditions until strong current (in the wrong direction!) approaching the point. Time 01:01:09. Place: 49th out of 265
(1st place time: 42:08).
Good conditions, water not rough, temperature comfortable. Time 56:38. Place: 74th out of 280
(1st place time: 39:13).
Favorable conditions, water not rough, temperature cold (but comfortable with wetsuit). I wore a wetsuit for the 1st time due to the cold water caused by a late spring. Time 53:45. Place: 99th out of 304
(1st place time: 37:00).
Favorable conditions, water not rough, temperature fine (with wetsuit). Time 53:05. Place: 94th out of 367
(1st place time: 35:54).
Unable to swim due to back problems.
Good conditions, some choppiness in middle, water temperature perfect (without wetsuit), accompanied by kayak. Time 53:16. Place: 111th out of 422, 3rd overall by age
(1st place time: 36:49).
Challenging conditions, stiff breeze and choppy water, water temperature fine (with wetsuit), accompanied by kayak. Time 1:06:06. Place: 187th out of 443, 5th overall by age
(1st place time: 39:47).
Excellent conditions, calm water, water temperature fine (without wetsuit), solo (not accompanied by kayak). Time 56:49. Place: 203rd out of 413, 4th overall by age
(1st place time: 36:10).
Excellent conditions, calm water, water temperature perfect (without wetsuit), accompanied by kayak. Time 55:53. Place: 176th out of 411, ?th overall by age
(1st place time: 37:48).
Excellent conditions, calm water, water temperature of 72.5 degrees was perfect (without wetsuit), not accompanied by kayak. Time 52:32. Place: 172nd out of 444, 4th overall by age
(1st place time: 32:50).
Moved to Virginia.
Returned for one more STB swim: Diane's 1st, John's 15th and a celebration of our 50th anniversary.
Good conditions at start that turned a bit choppy the last 1/3 or so. Water temperature comfortable for Diane wearing a neoprene top and short sleeveless wetsuit and for John with jammers (no wetsuit). Diane was accompanied by kayak (Eric Broudy) and finished in 1:45:24. John swam solo and finished in 1:06:53 (in the middle overall and 2 out of 16 for 70-79 age group).
(1st place times: 40:17 by both Olympian Elizabeth Beisel and Albert Garcia).
For the full story of our swims, go to STB 4 August 2018.
This annual swim - begun in 1977 - is a big and wonderful event. The Coast Guard closes the commercial shipping lane for 2 hours. You feel the excitement when everyone is gathering beforehand on the big lawn at the Naval War College in Newport and afterwards as swimmers, boaters, family, friends and volunteers happily squeeze onto the small beach on the Jamestown side. But, when swimming out in the middle of the Bay and looking up at the graceful Pell/Newport Bridge and just swimming away, each swimmer is alone. This always makes me feel quite small - but very special. Swimming 3000 meters in time sets 5 mornings a week in an indoor pool with my regular swimming buddies is excellent conditioning that works well to minimize the demons of old age, but I find swimming in the open water to be spiritual. It's more about connecting with the natural environment than the physical challenge - though it certainly is that!
Map data ©2005 NAVTEQ from maps.google.com