The East River is legendarily disgusting (for starters, during the 2003 blackout, 30 million gallons of "untreated human waste" were dumped into it), so Gothamist is impressed with anyone who can swim in it. The Manhattan Island Club had its first Brooklyn Bridge Swim, where the intrepid swim from Manhattan under the Brooklyn Bridge over to the Brooklyn side near the Manhattan Bridge. Newsday spoke to some swimmers, who were pretty amusing:
"There comes a point in the race where you have a dilemma -- you want to make the best time, but then you say to yourself, 'I'm in the middle of the East River,' " said Frank Goldstein, 55, who grew up in Brooklyn and was a Coney Island lifeguard as a teenager. "This is one of those fantasies," said Goldstein, who swam across in 29 minutes, 25 seconds. A lot of guys have midlife crises and go out and buy a Porsche. And then there are people like us who want to swim under the Brooklyn Bridge ... This is what keeps me feeling vital and energetic."
"It was tasty -- very distinct," said Bonnie Schwartz, 27, of the Upper West Side, a graduate student at Columbia University, who recently crossed the English Channel. "It's the very 'essence of New York.'"
Well, this of course reminds us of the Seinfeld episode, The Nap, where Kramer starts to swim laps between the Queensborough and Brooklyn Bridges:
FATHER: Over there, that's Brooklyn . That's where Spike Lee lives.
SON: Hey, there's a man swimming in the water.
FATHER: Naw, that's probably just a dead body son. You see when the mob kills someone they throw the body in the river.
However, Newsday reports that the East River is the cleanest it's been in 100 years. No word on how gross it was a 100 years ago (horse carcasses?).