Courtesy of WOWSA, Manhattan Island, New York.

Solo swims across lakes in Switzerland, ice miles around the world, channel swims, marathon races, unprecedented swims, participation in Winter Swimming World Cups.

She also helps mentor, coach, observe and crew for others, both for ice swimming and marathon swimming. There is seemingly nothing in the open water that personable 38-year-old Jaimie Monahan cannot do.

Cold water, warm water, rough water, calm water, night swimming, urban swimming, Arctic Circle swimming: the New Yorker does it all including the first two-loop circumnavigation race – the 40 Bridges – Double Manhattan Island Swim – hosted New York Open Water.

The inaugural 40 Bridges – Double Manhattan Island Swim was organized by David Barra, Rondi Davies, and Alex Arévalo with the help of escort pilots Dawn Jacobsen, Robert Jacobsen, Ed Scola, Paul Stone, Antonio Chaviano, Greg Porteus, and Mike Murphey, and escort kayakers Margaret Mann, Jeff Folmsbee, Alex Arévalo, Arik Thormahlen, Terry Lopatosky, John Humenik, Pat Kerrigan, John Russell, Terry O’Malley, Richard Lopez, Bill Steele and Luis Lopez, and observers Hsi-Ling Chang, Martina Pavlicova, DH Choi, JC DuBois, Elena Pavlova, Ryan McCabe, Patrick McNight, David Walman and Jia H. Jung, and support crew members Eri Utsunomiya, Alan Morrison, Matt Paulk, Paul Rekoff, Pat Kerrigan, Terry Lopatosky, Odette Chalandon, Alexandra Forrester, Melissa Burroughs and Ed Riley. In other words, nearly 40 people assisted the 6 swimmers on the waterways twice around Manhattan Island.

What a day, what a night, what a tough bunch of swimmers, what a great team of supporters: kayakers, boaters, observers, crew. It wasn’t easy; the swimmers were seriously gutsy and we watched in awe. Highlights included a four-hour battle against a raging current in the Harlem river between 11:30 pm and 3:30 am as the winds out of the north picked up,” reported the organizers. “Jaimie broke the course record set by Christian Jongeneel in 2016 by 3 minutes 51 seconds. Courtney Moates Paulk was also ahead of the 2016 record.”

On July 28th and 29th, the 57-mile (91.6 km) course started and finished at Pier A and circled Manhattan Island twice in a counterclockwise direction.

40 Bridges Double Manhattan Island Swim Results:
1. Jaimie Monahan (38) 8:35:43 first loop + 11:36:28 second loop = 20:12:06
2. Courtney Moates Paulk (47) 8:55:00 first loop + 11:20:55 second loop = 20:15:55
3. Michele Walters (42) 8:50:00 first loop + 11:26:40 second loop = 20:16:40
4. Gilles Chalandon (62) 8:36:00 first loop + 12:01:03 second loop = 20:37:03
5. Steve Gruenwald (55) 8:23:00 first loop
DNF Mo Siegel (65)

As co-organizer David Barra often says, “…anything worth doing is worth overdoing.”

In a recent article (The Daily Habits And Lifestyles of Open Water Swimmers), Monahan describes her effective use of time and energy:

Regarding Sleep
Q1. When do you go to bed and wake up on the weekdays (on average) and on weekends?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Weekdays ideally 11 pm and midnight, wake up around 6 am. Weekends varies wildly, but usually bed sometime after midnight, and if I don’t have anything to do the next day I can sleep most of the day, until noon at least.

Q2. Do you ever experience insomnia or sleep poorly? If so, what causes you to have insomnia or sleep poorly?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): I love to sleep and luckily very rarely have difficulty doing so. If I sleep poorly, it’s usually because I’m in an uncomfortable or noisy place like an airplane.

Q3. When do you get your best sleep?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): When my mental to-do list is complete and my body is physically tired. I love sleeping on boats – it feels like the water is rocking me to sleep.

Q4. Do you take naps? If so, when and for how long?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Whenever I can – I fell asleep this morning in yoga during shivasana.

Regarding Nutrition
Q1. Do you follow any particular diet or nutrition guidelines? If so, which kind of diet?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Not really – ideally I try to eat lots of protein and lots of veggies.

Q2. What are your favorite foods during heavy training? What are your favorite foods before a major swim or competition?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): I eat a lot of grilled chicken salad, I like fish and tofu a lot too. During heavy training I need a lot of protein so usually supplement with protein shakes. Before a big swim I like to eat hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, and fresh fruit.

Q3. Are there foods that you avoid for any reason?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): No.

Q4. Do you drink alcohol?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Yes.

Q5. How much water do you drink everyday?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): At least a gallon of tap water daily, plus homemade seltzer.

Regarding Dryland Training
Q1. Do you lift weights or do any resistance training? If so, how often per week?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Yes, 2-3 times a week, usually as part of a HIIT (high intensity interval training) class but also sometimes on my own.

Q2. Do you work on your core? If so, do you do sit-ups, crunches or planks?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Yes, planks and plank variations are my favorite, I think they’re a good indicator of overall strength.

Q3. Are you as strong as you were now as you were in your 20s (or 30s or 40s or 50s)?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): I think I’m even stronger, physically and in term of mental toughness.

Regarding Mindful Training
Q1. Do you mediate?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Not formally, but I do a lot of yoga and see my long swims as a moving meditation.

Q2. Do you do any visualization training?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Sometimes – I try not to visualize the end of longer swims because it gets me out of the present moment, but in Ice Swims towards the end I like to visualize what I need to do to get out of the pool/walk out of the water and get to the rewarming place.

Q3. What makes you happy during your swimming training?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Getting into a flow state where I feel strong and fast and one with the water.

Q4. What makes you frustrated or upset during your swimming training?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): I absolutely hate when swimmers come late to practice. I feel it is disrespectful to the coach and other swimmers and often disrupts the whole lane.

Q5. What is the last thing that you tell yourself before a major swim or competition?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Just breathe.

Regarding Swim Training
Q1. Do you prefer training in the mornings, afternoons or evenings?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Afternoon if possible, but that barely ever happens in reality.

Q2. What is your ideal training situation (in a pool, open water, warm water, cold water, rough water)?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): I like to train in the pool during the week and in open water (preferably the ocean) at weekends. 72°F/22°C is my favorite temperature if I’m going to be in for a long time. Glassy flat water in a lake or gentle rolling waves in the ocean are always nice.

Q3. Do you have a specific ritual before your swim practices?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Yes – I take the same locker every time, take my clothes off in the same order, put on swimsuit, deck shoes, walk to pool, lay out my stuff on the bench, put my cap/goggles on, and slide in.

Q4. How many days and hours per week do you train during heavy training?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): I almost never spend more than 2 hours a day in the pool, but depending on the week I might have long swims at the weekend up to 6 hours. If it’s more than that I will try to do an event or organize an actual swim rather than just swim back and forth.

Q5. What is your favorite kind of workout?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): I love a good stroke/IM workout with some sprints, a hypoxic set and lots of kicking.

Regarding Personal Perspectives
Q1. What makes you smile?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Good friends and beautiful places.

Q2. What makes you laugh?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Silly animal videos on the Internet.

Q3. What makes you sad?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): People who focus on tearing others down instead of taking the appropriate steps to design and accomplish their own goals.

Q4. What makes you frustrated?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): The constant juggling act between work, sleep, travel, and experience. I try my best to look at this as a challenge rather than a frustration though.

Q5. What drives you or motivates you most deeply?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): I want to maximize the amount of time I have on earth by experiencing life fully with passion and style.

Q6. Do you have a hero in the swimming world or otherwise?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Lynne Cox, Diane Struble, Irene van der Laan, Esther Williams, Isadora Duncan, Elsa Schiaparelli, Pancho Barnes.

Regarding the Future
Q1. What do you foresee for yourself in 10 years?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): I would like to continue pursuing my personal goals, whatever they are, and hope to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled.

Q2. What do you want to do tomorrow?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Work hard, eat well, exercise my body and my mind, and laugh as much as possible.

Q3. How would you like people to remember you?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): As someone who inspired them to pursue their most exciting and personal goals.

Q4. What is one word that you think best describes your lifestyle and achievements?
Jaimie Monahan (USA): Marvelous.

For more information on the race, visit New York Open Water.

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