Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hurricane Hanna Cancels the Brooklyn Bridge Swim

Hurricane Hanna caused the cancellation of the annual Brooklyn Bridge Swim, a scenic 1K swim from Manhattan to Brooklyn across the East River.

The entire New York region rapidly shifted into emergency-preparation mode in response to the Friday afternoon Hanna forecasts. As a result, escort and safety marine craft, essential to enforce the East River's closure, from the Coast Guard, NYPD Harbor and NYFD Harbor were placed on alert and redeployed due to local and federal safety plans. The race was cancelled as a result.

With typical efficiency, race director Morty Berger contacted all 315 entrants and 100+ escort boat personnel, kayakers and volunteers via an email blast and voice messages to their home, work and cell phones. With swimmers coming into New York from as far away as California and Germany, the professionalism demonstrated by the Manhattan Island Foundation was appreciated by all.

For the 1K swim, Berger had to negotiate with several different local, state and federal agencies to hold the swim. Navigating the government bureaucracies, Berger obtain six different race permits from New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the New York State Department of Parks and Recreation, the New York City Economic Development Commission, the New York City Department of Transportation and the U.S. Coast Guard as well as submit applications to, receive letters of approval from, the New York Police Department and New York Fire Department. Considering that Berger successfully convinced all levels of government bureaucracies and politicians to halt all boat traffic along the East River (including thousands of boats that travel daily up and down the river), the logistical and planning that goes into the Brooklyn Bridge Swim is far beyond any swim of this length.

Photo of the start of the 2007 Brooklyn Bridge Swim by Susan Egan.

Copyright © 2008 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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