Note from EV Grieve: In case you saw an earlier version of this post. Draeger is organizing and hosting this event... she's not swimming this year... she did the trek last year. Oops! My apologies. The post has amended to reflect this.
On Saturday, East Village resident Deanne Draeger is hosting a 17-mile swim from East 26th Street to the Steeplechase Pier in Coney Island.
Aug. 13 marks the 100-year anniversary of when 17-year-old Rose Pitonof completed the very same route. As The New York Times reported on that date, there were 50,000 people waiting for Pitonof at Coney Island when she finished.
"From the time she first made her appearance around Norton’s Point thousands gathered along the shore to watch her progress and cheer her on to victory, and all bathing was suspended for practically the last hour of her swim."
Last year, Draeger replicated Rose’s historic swim. The whole thing came about after Draeger was injured while training for her second Ironman event. She couldn't run or cycle. So she decided to focus on swimming.
"As I was searching online for a long-distance swim event, I came across an article about Rose Pitonof and her swim, and knew immediately that that was what I wanted to do," she said.
This year, Draeger, 43, has organized a marathon event for six swimmers. She hopes to make this an annual event. The swimathon — The Rose Pitonof Centennial Swim — starts along the Manhattan side of the East River at 8:45 a.m., crossing over to Brooklyn just past the Williamsburg Bridge. (Best time to view from the East River Park: 9 a.m. on the north end of park until roughly 10-11 a.m. on the south end of the park. The swimmers, who will each be accompanied by a motorboat and a kayak, are expected to arrive in Coney Island by 6 p.m.)
Draeger answered a few questions for us...
On the idea of swimming to Coney Island
"I've lived in NYC most of my life — the past 15 years or so right on East 13th Street. I see the East River almost every day. Jumping in and starting to swim to Coney Island was a rush. Most of my life it never crossed my mind to do something so crazy. I guess I imagined it was impossible — illegal even."
On the best part of the swim
"Passing underneath bridges is the best part — and such amazing bridges. The Williamsburg, Manhattan, Brooklyn and Verrazano — I've always loved them. Now I feel like they belong to me in a whole new way. I've been here all my life, but for the first time, was able to see my city in a way that no one ever gets to see it. And for that experience, I feel incredibly grateful."
Read more about Rose Pitonof here.
Here's a map of the swim route.
Here's more on the other swimmers.
Here's a piece our friends at Amusing the Zillion wrote about Draeger.