Race Report: 2012 Little Red Lighthouse Swim

Since participating in NYCSwim events this year I have found that their Webinars before the event to be quite informative. I listened in on Wednesday leading to the 10.2K Litte Red Lighthouse Swim. One fact that they made clear was that the swim times this year would be much slower in comparison to last year’s due to the current not being entirely in our favor. This was also evident on their website which made my training sessions even more essential. Living in NYC you always hear that in swims like those the current is always in your favor and swim times will be extremely fast. I am quite happy that I went contrary to this belief with training. My key workouts for this 10.2K swim included: some long open water swim sessions at Brighton Beach, long pool workouts and ended with a 8K pool workout last weekend. So heading into this weekend I had the confidence that I swam a 5 miler and with good pacing this swim would be fun and relaxing to the finish.

Anh, my wife and wonderful supporter accompanied me to the swim start at 79th (Boat Basin) on the West Side of Manhattan. Swimmers were required to check in between 8:30 – 9:45am. Official race start was 10:50am . As always with long waits prior to racing I tend to have two breakfast servings. At home I had a peanut butter sandwich and when we got to 79th I ordered an egg sandwich from a Diner on Broadway. After I checked in we camped on a park bench at the West Side waterfront. There were plenty of recreational patrons out on a beautiful NYC day. The weather couldn’t have been better. There was a slight chill but not as windy as some of the swims I’ve done this year which leads to choppy swims. This was noticeable by the calmness of the Hudson River.

I was seeded in Wave 5 of 9 Bib# 301. As always which I love in endurance events, there were participants of all ages. Everyone is just out to have some fun at the last swim event on the NYCSwim calendar.

When my wave was up we were ordered to the dock at 79th. This also happens to be the swim finish of the New York City Triathlon – a race I did back in 2010. My wave all jumped in the water and got ready for the start horn. Waves were allowed to go at 3-5 minute intervals.

During the Webinar the moderator said that there would be about 19 swim buoys approximately 1/4 mile apart. Also swimmers had to swim no more than 5 yards to either side of the buoys. My goal was just to take a buoy at a time – no mile markers here. As per fuel I packed an 8oz fuel bottle in my suit which contained accelerade (I would finish the race never using or needing it).

Since purchasing and racing with my Amber Aquasphere goggles they have increased my swim sighting ability. For the most part I was able to sight the swim buoys in the far distance and make my way to them. At times I just went with a pack if one was present. The few times I glanced at my watch for my race time were 40 minutes in, below the George Washington Bridge and the the finish (there was a 2:40 cutoff time for the GWB – I made it there at 2:11 πŸ™‚ ). Swimming through so much of New York / New Jersey scenery really kept me distracted which made the swim even more enjoyable.

The closer the George Washington bridge seemed at times the slower I felt progression was being made as it felt like an enternity. I stopped a few times to adjust my goggles and verify swim direction and landmarks. Closer to the GWB I estimated that there were about 3 more buoys to go before crossing the bridge. As I approached and got closer I observed and saw the infamous Little Red Lighthouse to my right – it’s quite litter for sure. Unfortunately I also saw some swimmers making their way directly to it. Fortunately the race kayakers helped them back on course. I stopped and made sure to soak it all in at the Bridge and Lighthouse.

At this point in the swim as per the Webinar and the pre-race meeting we were told that it would be a remaining 1.2 miles to the finish. With my Half Ironman swim experiences and race times I figured that to be roughly 34+ minutes. With the current we were promised in the later part of the swim that would be closer to 30 minutes.

While swimming nice and easy after the bridge I was suddenly got sucked into one of the stationary buoys by a very strong current. After gaining my composure I went back to my sighting and swimming to the finish. The buoys were not too clear at this point in the swim so it was a bit more difficult to navigate. Thankfully there were helper boats and kayakers around to help us through. After about 10 minutes or so I could see a crowd and hear cheering in the distance and knew the finish was near.

At the last buoy I wad called out by a kayaker to make a hard right and head to the finish. I still felt comfortable with my stroke and effort level so swam strong to the finish.

My Garmin data from the Little Red Lighthouse Swim

In Conclusion:

For anyone looking for a swim challenge beyond the 2.4 mile Ironman distance this is a highly recommended swim. NYCSwim continues to impress me with their race organization and ability to put the athlete first. Their races are mostly capped at 400 or so swimmers and makes for great swimming, fun and safety. My swim training and volume has been incredible this year. I may not be the fastest swimmer out there by any means but swimming is absolute fun and relaxing. I look forward to more swim challenges in the future.

Finish Time: 2:40:18

Overall Place: 214/284

Official Results


  1. Hi, great review! I am doing the 2013 LRL swim in a few weeks. Could you elaborate how you carry the 8oz fuel bottle in your suit? Thanks!

    • Thanks for the comments. I carried the bottle inside the back of my suit. Hope that helps and good luck. Take it all in an enjoy the swim and Hudson views.

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