Courtesy of WOWSA, Hudson River, New York
After enjoying a remarkable first five days in the 8 Bridges Hudson River Swim, the worst possible scenario occurred towards the end of Stage 6, known as The Palisades.
Rondi Davies describes the 15.7-mile stretch, “Swimmers will swim a beautiful 15.7 miles from the Tappan Zee/Mario Cuomo Bridge to the George Washington Bridge in northern Manhattan. This stage is a fan favorite thanks to the fast currents and beautiful views of the Palisades.”
Unfortunately, the U.S. Coast Guard reported that a spotter saw 67-year-old swimmer Dr. Charles Van Der Horst go under and not reappear near the foot of the Little Red Lighthouse at Fort Washington Park towards the end of the swim about 3:10 pm near the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge – the finish.
Divers and search crews from the New York Police Department Harbor Patrol, the Fire Department of New York and the U.S. Coast Guard remained searching for the missing swimmer between Washington Heights and Fort Lee until the late afternoon.
“As can be expected, this kind of accident – especially with an experienced open water swimmer and especially within the very close-knit and supportive marathon swimming community – is very difficult to grasp, understand; it is devastating,” observed Steven Munatones. “He had already completed Stage 3 in 4 hours 40 minutes and Stage 4 in 4 hours 46 minutes, but he had pulled himself out of Stage 5 due to cold.
The swimming community is thinking about and praying for him and his family. The outpouring of sympathy and the expressions of sadness and condolences have been numerous.”
Race directors David Barra and Rondi Davies said, “On behalf of New York Open Water, it is with great sadness that we report the loss of a swimmer today on Stage 6 of the 8 Bridges Open Water Swim. Our thoughts are first and foremost with the swimmer’s family. The New York Police Department is continuing search efforts in the Hudson River and the Stage 7 swim scheduled for tomorrow has been cancelled. We can confirm that all swimmer safety protocols were in place and that the NYPD was escorting the field. We will continue to work closely with the authorities and will provide updates as they become available.”
Further reports will be furnished upon receiving more information and official updates from the New York Open Water race directors.
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