In one of the unsung stories of the recent Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, the Mighty Mermaids finished fifth overall in 7 hours 33 minutes. It was a grand follow-up to their inaugural swim at the 2008 Trans Tahoe Relay where they were the second-fastest female team and 24th overall.
The Mighty Mermaids are a special team where age and competitiveness are their calling cards. The team consists of Christie Plank Ciraulo (55), Nancy Steadman Martin (54), Lisa Bennett (53), Jenny Cook (51), Karen Farnsworth Einsidler (53) and Tracy Grilli (52).
When Christie turned 50, she dreamed to organize a group of fast women in their 50's to swim together on a major open water swimming relay. Christie was looking for something more than just pool swimming. She introduced herself to Tracy Grilli and Nancy and kept in touch for over a year before the Trans Tahoe Relay became a possibility.
Jenny, Karen and Lisa were recruited and confirmed in short order. As Christie recalled, "Once our team was set, we were already picking out our team color, team suits and team nail polish.”
In their first collective foray, the Mighty Mermaids won their division at the 2008 Trans Tahoe Race, finishing ahead of their nearest rival by 90 minutes, setting an unprecedented standard for their age-group. Their swim at the 2009 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim continues to showcase their ageless talents. The team includes:
Christie (Los Angeles) has earned 144 spots on the US Masters Swimming Top Ten lists and numerous World Top Ten rankings. She won USMS national championships in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 2008 and 2009, in addition to winning the Waikiki Roughwater Swim and several ocean swims in Manhattan Beach, Seal Beach and Newport Beach in California.
Nancy (New Jersey) has swum along the Jersey shore since childhood. She has swum all over the world including an English Channel crossing in 2004, the 17.5-mile Ederle Swim in 2006, and across the Catalina Channel in 2008.
Lisa (Virginia) is a US Masters Swimming and 3-time world record holder with 159 USMS Top Ten swims with numerous open water swimming victories, including being the first woman to win the Navy SEAL reunion swim.
Jenny (Los Angeles) is a national and world record holder in the pool who is taking her considerable swimming talents to the open water from California to New York.
Karen (New Jersey) is a successful English Channel swimmer who several local open water swimming victories in between earning 132 USMS Top Ten positions and setting 9 world records and 19 world number one rankings. A breast cancer survivor, mother of triplets and an attorney, it is a wonder Karen has time to sleep.
Tracy (New Hampshire) is the widely-recognized administrator for USMS in addition to having consistently placed on the world's top ten lists.
Photo shows Lisa, Christie, Tracy, Nancy, Karen and Jenny from left to right.