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I'm not as top as I'd like to be, but I'm topper than the others.

- Ukrainian boxer and activist Vladimir Klitschko


2014 Swim Series


Great Hudson River Swim (1.6 M)

Manhattan Island Swim I (28.5 M)

Governors Island Swim (2 M)

Manhattan Island Swim II (28.5 M)

Manhattan Island Swim III (28.5 M)

Brooklyn Bridge Swim (1 km)

Stars & Stripes: Aquathlon and Swim (1.5 km swim/ 5 km run)

Ederle Swim (17.5 M)

TBD (Labor Day Weekend)
Statue of Liberty Swim (1.2 km)

Manhattan Island Relays (28.5 M)

Little Red Lighthouse Swim (10.2 km)



NYC Swim is always looking for volunteers (paddlers, powerboaters, monitors, etc.) to help with our events.

Cross Currents Newsletter

June 27, 2014

Top Items in This Issue

Grace Van der Byl Wins Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (Round 1) >>
Governors Island Swim a Success >>
Sleep in Before the Brooklyn Bridge Swim >>
Community: Bjoern Kils >>

Links of Interest

A commuter's lament: NYC's changing skyline
Trying to gain weight for a channel crossing? Dairy Queen just moved to Manhattan...
Manhattanhenge's unique allure
50 free things to do in NYC this summer
Seven swimming holes near NYC

NYC Swim in the News/Blogosphere

California swimmer claims victory in Manhattan
East River Runner captures Manhattan Island swimmers on video
Gordon Gridley recounts his trip around Manhattan

Grace Van der Byl Wins Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (Round 1)

Grace van der Byl Wins Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (Round 1)Grace Van der Byl, 36, of Solana Beach, CA, won the 2014 Manhattan Island Marathon Swim race in 7:14:03, making good on an effort begun last year when cold water ended her swim early. Second finisher and first male was Samir Barel of Brazil in 7:17:59.

Full results are now posted online.

Congratulations to all 17 swimmers who added a successful Manhattan swim to their résumés. Many thanks are also in order for the dozens of volunteers on land, on the water, and in boats who helped us stage this big event. We couldn't do it without your help.

The first swim around Manhattan may be over, but the around Manhattan Island fun is only just beginning! There are two more Manhattan Island Marathon Swim races scheduled for solo swimmers on June 28 (that's TOMORROW!) and July 12. We also have the Manhattan Island Relays coming up on September 10, and we could use more volunteers for all three big events. Enroll today and help us put on three more great circumnavigation races of the Big Apple.

Governors Island Swim a Success!

Governors Island Swim a Success!Boy was last weekend's Governors Island Swim a great day out there! The likely last-edition of the event reminded us of all we know and love about it, and of how wildly popular and creative the island has become since we first started bringing swimmers there in 2005.

This year's swim had everything: The leap off the Water Taxi was back (after last year's Sandy-caused hiatus), a picture-perfect summer day, a convoy of paddlers from the Long Island City Boathouse to help out, and Governors Island to the left and Lady Liberty to the right. We're looking forward to swimming around her in August.

Congratulations to all the swimmers who participated and a multitude of thanks to all the volunteers who made the event possible. It was a pleasure to share such a beautiful early summer day with you all.

Sleep in Before the Brooklyn Bridge Swim

Sleep in Before the Brooklyn Bridge SwimThanks to some construction happening on both sides of the East River waterfront used for the Brooklyn Bridge Swim, we've had to flip sides and push back the starting time for the event, which is scheduled to take place on Sunday, July 20.

The Brooklyn Bridge Swim will now launch on the Manhattan side in East River Park at approximately 11:15 a.m. This is the original racecourse we used for many years. Our race-day schedule for the event has been updated; please review it for more information and extra details. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us.

If you haven't already, you can still sign up for this popular event. Register today as a swimmer or a volunteer. We hope to see you there, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed!

Community: Bjoern Kils

Community: Bjoern KilsCoolest Job Ever?
Over the past two years, Bjoern Kils, 34, has become a prolific boat support volunteer for NYC Swim. He's supported nearly 15 different events as a boat captain, helping myriad swimmers achieve their goals in open water. And he's managed to fit in all this volunteering around a very busy day-job, which is quite possibly one of the coolest gigs going in New York City.

Bjorn grew up in Flensburg, a small city of about 90,000 people in northern Germany situated a few miles from the Danish border. His father was a marine scientist who did a lot of research in Antarctica, among other places, and his work eventually called him to the New York area. The family settled in New Jersey in 1994, and Bjoern has called the Garden State home ever since.

Bjoern became familiar with the water and comfortable around boats as a result of his father's job. He studied journalism and marine science in college, and eventually joined those two interests to create a company–New York Media Boat–that allows him to pursue both as a busy, rewarding career.

New York Media Boat offers photography services and support for a range of different clients and groups as well as adventure sightseeing tours around New York Harbor. The inspiration for building the company came when Bjoern, who had worked in television for about six years noticed "we were covering a lot of things near the water using a helicopter. Sometimes the boat was an alternative, and I began doing assignments from a small boat." He found a market for this service, and "three years ago, I decided to make a go of it full-time," he says.

To get a sense of just how busy his thriving business is, Bjoern rattles off a long list of assignments he completed in the month of May. "In the beginning of May, I was doing a video shoot for the Golf Channel. We had cameras on the boat and were chasing another boat that had Rudy Giuliani on board. Two weeks before that I was working with "Celebrity Apprentice" and had camera teams aboard. Then I was working with the Atlantic Cup, which is a big sailing regatta. Capital New York sent a reporter out to do a feature on what I do."

In addition, Bjoern had engagements with other sailing and corporate clients in May. He covered the arrival of the 100-foot ocean race trimaran Banque Populair and shot images of and spent 10 days working with another French trimaran, Virbac-Paprec. Another interesting assignment last month saw Bjoern working with a client who is attempting to row solo across the North Atlantic from New York to the United Kingdom while raising money for a children's hospice based in the UK. The end of the month brought another sailboat race from New York to Barcelona where Bjoern provided media boat coverage of the event. "It's been a really busy month," he says.

Bjoern works with all sorts of clients and companies, and among the more majestic of his patrons are sailboat clients. "I'm working with an Italian sailboat sponsored by Maserati that set a record for sailing from New York to San Francisco around Cape Horn. I'm their official US photographer and do all the photography for their sponsor." He used his own boat in New York to cover the departure. "Then, while they sailed over to San Francisco, I flew there and chartered a boat to document the arrival." This also included doing "product photography of some Maserati cars under the Golden Gate Bridge with the sailboat in the background," which resulted in some pretty spectacular images that the sponsors use in their marketing and advertising campaigns.

In addition, Bjoern frequently travels to Europe and other locations abroad for video production and photography assignments. When added to his local work, the business is expanding well, but Bjoern's quantity of free time sometimes dwindles.

"I'm working long hours, but they're usually interesting assignments." Even when things are quiet and he isn't out shooting or running the boat, he still has lots of administrative and photo editing work that needs to be completed to keep the business going. "There's a lot of office work and marketing. I can't shoot everyday, and I do need some computer time to do post-processing. And of course there's a lot of communication with clients," he explains.

Despite being supremely busy, Bjoern makes time available to help out with NYC Swim events as much as he can. "I worked every event last year," he says. He first got involved after meeting members of the NYC Swim volunteer team at the Paddlesport expo four years ago in Edison, NJ. His background with boating as well as his lifeguarding and rescue diver certifications meant he was a highly qualified addition to the NYC Swim roster of boat captains, despite being not much of a swimmer himself.

Still, he's always on and around the water. Bjoern keeps his boat in the water and runs it as a support vessel all year round. In the winter, he says, "I run workshops for photographers where we go looking for harbor seals."

This past winter, Bjoern's readiness and willingness to respond to fellow boaters in distress at a moment's notice may well have saved a life. It was January 15 when a tugboat sank off Long Island. Bjoern was working about two miles away and heard the mayday call over the radio. "It was very dense fog, six-foot waves, cold and getting dark. Those are the least optimal conditions for a mayday call, and when I heard it on the radio, it sounded pretty spooky." Because Bjoern's boat is outfitted with radar and lots of high-tech electronics, he was able to quickly locate the sinking vessel and speed to the scene, where he pulled the tugboat's crewmember into his own boat and safety. He says when he arrived, he found a man clinging to the last three feet of the 68-foot tugboat ‘Sea Lion' that was still above the frigid water line. "He didn't have a survival suit on or anything. Had we been 30 seconds later… he was lucky that we were there."

The dramatic rescue certainly made Bjoern a hero to the men he saved that day, just as he's a hero in a less high-stakes way to countless NYC Swim swimmers who have relied on his boating skills during our events. However, Bjoern is humble about his role in the rescue and his work with NYC Swim. Both, it seems, are just all in a day's work for Bjoern Kils.

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