Getting to Manhattan

by Andrew Malinak

There was a time when I had ceased to be a swimmer. I ran a bit, played some water polo, got into triathlons, and then graduated college and started travelling a lot. More on this later, but at some point I got back into swimming, and when I did I immediately started looking for a goal. I recalled a friend from my age group team had swam around Manhattan way back when. As easily as that, I decided I, too, was going to swim around Manhattan. Why not, right? I mean, it sounds really cool.

The thing about the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim is, it’s hard to get accepted. They check your swimming resume, ask all about your training plan, and generally want details about you as a swimmer. Crazy stuff like that. It was so obvious to me that I could complete the swim, why did they need me to prove it? I mean, I’d done a 5k or two and survived adolescence on a swim team, so. Plus, I’d already traveled to the Lake District that September to do my four-hour qualifying swim. (Side note: Lake Coniston is gorgeous in September, but the 54 degree water takes some getting used to.) Despite my best efforts at sounding confident, 2010 would not be my year for MIMS. Surprise, surprise.

So I buckled in, looked around, and quickly found a way shorter body of water to cross. In May, I completed my first marathon swim by crossing the Strait of Gibraltar (more on that to come as well). Now, with that and a 6.5k under my belt…the belt of my swim suit, I guess…surely they’d let me in next year. After all, I knew how to swim over ten miles. November came; the “thanks for applying” letter came shortly thereafter.

By now, late 2010, I’d put traveling on pause and was back in New York, living in North Brooklyn. To continue my resume-building, I swam the Kingdom Swim in Vermont and the Chesapeake Bay swim plus two NYC Swim events in the summer of 2011, volunteered for a few other NYC Swim events including as a kayaker for MIMS. To be extra certain, I agreed to fundraise the NYC Swim’s charity. In late October while on vacation at the beach in South Carolina, I found out my efforts had paid off. An hour or so later, I was in the ocean doing a victory lap.

The only thing left to do was to figure out how to do this thing. How hard could it be?

And this just in, all of my application essays still exist on the NYC Swim site. Cringe. Perhaps someday I’ll share them, if I can ever bring myself to read what young Andrew wrote back then.