Posted by: libbith | July 14, 2009

Semper Fidelis

As I believe I have mentioned previously here–and if not here, certainly verbally to many people–the triathlon requires a much greater body of knowledge than many other endurance sports.  You have to master three sports, learn how to transition between them, and assemble and utilize the gear required for each.  Additionally, there are many external factors related to each sport that one could, if one was nerdy and internet obsessed enough, become engrossed with.  I am certainly nerdy and internet obsessed, so I have devoted far too much of my time learning about each sport.

One thing I had come across, but was having trouble decoding, was the how, why, and when the Hudson River ebbs and floods.  Since the portion of the Hudson near the city is an estuary, it not only is somewhat saline, but is subject to the tides of the ocean.  Rather than having the waters recede from the beach, the tides make the river change the direction it flows, resulting in ebbs and floods with periods of slack water, or no flow, in between.  This is not only pretty interesting–to some of us at least–but can greatly aid or detract from one’s swim time in the triathlon.  Because they start us in waves based on experience (pros vs. elite amateurs vs. everyone else) as well as gender and age, everyone starts at a different time.  For example, the men my age start almost an hour after I do.  So, the river could be flowing very differently for me and them.  Some years, this causes a lot of problems because those who start early get a great ebb (downtown flowing), where as those who start later can get a compeltely slack, or even flooding (uptown) river.  I had heard that this year was supposed to be particularly strong ebbing, around 2 knots (apparently a lot), and would be ebbing for a long amount of time.  I wanted to, however, find this out on a seemingly reputable website for myself.  So I did.

If you go to this website, and scroll down to July, and then scroll down to 26, you will see this:

26 0028 +2.0 0315 0646 -2.9 0952 1314 +2.0 1557 1914 -2.3 2209

After a little while, I figured out that it means that, at 3:15 am, there is a slack river.  From there, the river begins to ebb with a peak at 6:46 am and 2.9 knots.  The next slack is not until 9:52.  Therefore, all of us swimming sometime between 5:50am, the first pro wave, and 7:54am, men 24 and under, will have a strong downstream current to carry us as we swim.  Fantastic.  And, while none of the times are far from the peak, my start time of either 6:20 or 6:23 is pretty darn close.

All in all, great news.  The less time in that scummy river, the better!



  1. so interesting! and yaay, that you will benefit from the strong downstream current as you swim!!!


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