MSF Documented Swim
Around Absecon Island
34.9 km / 21.7 miles
July 11, 2016
13 hours, 59 minutes
Observed & Documented by Sarah Watson
- Name: Jaimie Monahan
- Age on swim date: 36
- Nationality: United States
- Resides: New York, New York, USA
Clockwise circumnavigation of Absecon Island, New Jersey. Start and finish at Gardner’s Basin dock (39°22’35” N, 74°25’14”W).
Minimum route distance: 35 km (21.8 miles)
- Capt. Stewart Rosen - pilot
- Sarah Watson - observer
- Arik Thormahlen - paddler & crew
- Start: July 11, 2016, 01:06.
- Finish: July 11, 2016, 15:06.
- Elapsed: 13 hours, 59 minutes, 24 seconds.
Summary of Conditions
Great conditions, warm water, warm air and light winds of variable directions throughout the day.
- Sea Temp: 67F (min) - 78F (max)
- Air Temp: 65F (min) - 76F (max)
- Wind Speed: 3 mph (min) - 12 mph (max), primarily N-NE.
- Other Notable Events: A beautiful day, many boats coming to visit, great weather and tons of landmarks.
Transcribed Log Notes
by Sarah Watson
|01:06||Start, jumped off dock in gardners basin.|
|01:36||First feed, arik reported all is well.|
|02:06||Just rounded the Absecon inlet jetty and are in the ocean.
Wind is now offshore for us, with air temp dropping. Water temp still steady at 70.
Tide is going out, so she has some push.
|02:36||Cruising along, swimming very smooth with a steady pace. Still can’t see for stroke rate.
She’s passed a number of landmarks, including Steel Pier,
the original start site for the ’Round the Island Swim race.
Flat seas with a light northeasterly swell,
just enough to remind us we are in the ocean and not a lake!
Her feed took about 10-15 seconds.
|03:06||Wind is calming slightly. Water still flat with some swell.
Those of us on the boat could smell fried onions
wafting over from the boardwalk and wondered if Jaimie could smell it.
Another fast feed just about in front of Boardwalk Hall,
site of the Miss America Pageant.
She’s a little less than 3.5 miles in.
|03:36||Jaimie continues to cruise along, she has now passed all casinos in AC and is south of Albany Avenue.
Another fast feed.
|04:06||Feed took 10 seconds. We are in Ventnor, where this Observer used to live.
Still pitch black, with glassy water, an offshore breeze, and some light swell.
We are 5.2 miles into the swim!
|04:36||Dawn has broken. Feed took about 10 seconds.
Water conditions continue, though temperature is dropping slightly..
Have gone 6 miles so far.
|05:06||Morning light growing. Chop picking up a bit.
Jaimie looks strong and is moving along with a bit of a current assist. Just off the Margate Fishing Pier
|05:36||Sunrise. Arik retrieved the mouthwash for Jaimie to use at her next feed.
Feed took 15 seconds. Almost to Lucy in Margate!
|06:06||She is in Longport, swimming strong. 8.4 miles in.
She may be a bit early for the incoming tide, which is at 8am in the inlet.
But she will be slowed a bit by the last of the outgoing tide
and the related current that forms along the shore.
Just off 33rd street beach, which is where Bruckner Chase
has the Ocean City Swim Club swims every summer Sunday.
Longpoirts tagline is ”The Best Port” and the city
paints a large smiley face on the water towers.
|06:36||Just up from the jetty and inlet. Still cruising along at 1.5kts,
though slowed a bit by the outgoing current.
At 9.2 miles. Stroke rate consistent at 46/min
|07:06||Going in the jetty a bit before slack tide.
Had a few bird visitors as she was making the turn into the bay.
Is likely hitting some outgoing tide right now, especially as her stroke rate has increased.
Water warming up quickly.
Arik navigating her closer to the shore while the boat has to be in deeper waters.
She may have to swim against the tide for a bit. Low tide not until 8am.
|07:36||Jaimie has fought valiantly to swim against the last bit of outgoing tide,
making very modest headway against a rather fierce current.
She’s right in front of the beach at the Longport jetty, she’s about 20 minutes away from slack tide.
Captain Stu says to take it a bit slower because
she may be too fast for the tide on the other end of the island!
Right now the westerly wind and the outgoing inlet
currents are making the water quite choppy
|08:06||Swimming harder than she was in the ocean and
making plenty of headway as the tide begins to go slack.
She’s out in the middle of the navigation channel and we are trying to
bring her closer to the shoreline.
She called out 5 in honor of one of the numbered navigation buoys that she passed.
Quick feed, tide will soon be in her favor.
|08:36||Cruising along with the current now, but has a headwind that is driving the chop up in her face.
Captain advises that she slow down so she won’t have to fight the tide on the other side of tidal split.
|09:06||Talking briefly during feeding. Wind and waves are about the same.
We are being serenaded by osprey, terns, rails, gulls, and oystercatchers.
Just about at the Margate Bridge. She is just about 13 miles into the swim
|09:36||Swim continues to be routine. Gave a thumbs up after her feed.
She had a rowboat escort for a bit with an older Margate beach patrol guard
rowing alongside as she went under the bridge.
Then we passed several construction sites with folks
watching her swim and letting loose with a few cheers!
|10:06||Turning into the Golden Mile portion of the Intracoastal Waterway in Ventnor.
Captain Stu is trying to get the Dorset Avenue bridge to open early.
The city needs clearance from the police to make sure
authorities are both on the barrier island and the Heights side.
Wind is calming down and the air is warming up!
She’s more than 15 miles in now.
|10:36||Flat water that is sheltered from all wind. Has about 6 miles left and was asking how much farther.
Captain Stu’s expectation is two miles with or in neutral current and then the last 4 may be against.
This is smack in the middle of this Observer’s favorite training area,
with houses on both sides and plenty of people around to say hello!
One boat asked if Jaimie was training for something.
Was very excited when we responded she was swimming around the island.
He shouted that someone needs to bring the ’Round the Island swim back.
|11:06||The boat made it under Dorset Ave bridge with 3 inches to spare!
Water warming up and two and a half hours until the tide changes.
Jaimie forging ahead and increased her stroke rate slightly after the feed.
Lots of fun scenery as we go through Ventnor.
|11:36||We are now back in Atlantic City.
Flat water, though she may be finally feeling the tide moving against her.
She keeps waving to spectators, seems to be in a joyful and cheerful mood.
Captain said we should have slept in an hour later
because Jaimie is swimming so well that we could have started later.
Captain Stu also said Jaimie is making
this look so easy that he might swim it next year while Jaimie pilots the boat!
|12:06||Just have gone under the Albany Ave bridge and near the AC boat house.
Water flat, a slight sea breeze kicking in.
Jaimie looks great and is still swimming consistently.
|12:36||Working harder to make forward progress against the tide.
Has been advised to move closer to shore to avoid the worst of the current.
Inching along, but the tide is coming in still pretty hard here
and has at least an hour and a half to go before slack.
She’s in good spirits.
|13:14||Metamorphosis was held up because of the railroad bridge.
Arik now taking Jaimie through Venice Park (the short cut)
so log will be updated when we reconnect on the other side.
Water currently flat due to being sheltered from sea breeze.
|14:06||Reconnected with Jaimie on the other side of the ”short cut” through Venice Park.
Her stroke count has increased to keep up with the current.
Tide is nearing slack and will be going out in about a half hour.
Estimate another hour and she will be done.
She is sheltered from the sea breeze from the land.
Water is glassy and flat until we hit the main Absecon channel.
By swimming through this channel,
Jaimie missed the fragrance of the wastewater treatment plant.
|14:36||Passing Harrah’s and just about into Absecon Channel.
Captain Stu says we are currently passing where an old marina was.
Used to also have a sea plane landing here.
No feed at 2:36, but Arik fed her at 2:43p. This likely is the last feed.
|15:06||Jaimie finished almost exactly 14 hours after starting.
She brought this swim to a close with one stroke of butterfly into the dock.
Final official time: 13:59:24.
by Jaimie Monahan
The historic Around-the-Island Atlantic City Marathon Swim event around Absecon Island, New Jersey, USA started back in 1953 as a $100 bet between Edward Solitaire and Edward Stetser, two Atlantic City lifeguards who became the first two finishers in 14 and 15 hours, respectively. The next year, during Atlantic City’s Centennial in 1954, it became a popular event for many years, attracting some of the world’s best professional swimmers including Herman “The Flying Dutchman” Willemse, Marilyn Bell, Cliff Lumsdon, and Tom Park.
In 1964 the race was discontinued until a test swim by local lifeguards in 1978 and then officially re-opened as a world class event in 1979. Local lifeguards escorted marathon swimmers in rowboats for many years in a series of exciting races. Shelley Taylor-Smith won the overall event twice in a row in record time. The current records belong to France’s Stephane Gomez, 6:37:09 and Olympian Angela Maurer still holds the women’s record with 7:00.41. Sadly the race was discontinued in 2005. After the discontinuation of the organized race, marathon swimmers including Bruckner Chase and Jason Malick have done individual swims around the island.
Having read about this historic swim and enjoying the amazing history of Atlantic City –home of bootleggers, birthplace of Miss America Pageant, the gambling, the sideshows, the faded glamour of the “Boardwalk Empire” the idea of a solo swim really appealed to me. JC Malick highly recommended his pilot, Captain Stewart Rosen of Metamorphosis Boat Charters, so I got in touch with him in advance of the 2016 season to start planning. Captain Stu is wonderful and I cannot recommend him highly enough, for swimmers or any of the charter services:
Metamorphosis Boat Charters - Capt. Stewart Rosen http://www.metjourneys.com firstname.lastname@example.org / (609) 225-3023
In terms of crew we had the amazing Sarah Watson, who was a perfect choice as observer. Sarah is a trained observer and has extensive knowledge of the local waters, history, and area based as her background as a former resident of Ventnor while working as a journalist in Atlantic City as well as her current role as a Risk Communications consultant for NOAA.
Awesome Arik Thormahlen agreed to crew/kayak the whole time and did a great job. We had a few tries with local kayak rental places, some better than others, then ended up renting with Kammerman’s Marina which was a great choice. Kammerman’s is a family owned business, right across from the swim start at Gardner’s Basin, and their team truly went above and beyond to facilitate the swim. Highly recommend their services:
Kammerman's Marina Atlantic City http://www.kammermansmarina.com/ Phone: 609 348 8418 / email@example.com 447 Carson Ave, Atlantic City, NJ 08401
The swim started just after 1am at Gardner’s Basin. Jumped off the dock and swam past some late night fishermen/partiers and then around the corner into the open ocean. We passed the historic Steel Pier - in some years this was the start of the Around the Island swim. In the early 20th century this was one of the greatest amusement parks in the Northeast. As we passed the Pier I thought of the famous Diving Horses. This amazing show ran until 1978, the year the Around the Island Marathon swim was revived.
The best part of the swim for me was swimming along the beach in the Atlantic Ocean through the night. The water was comfortably warm and I really enjoyed being in the dark looking out towards the boardwalk and neon casinos. So much to see!
The sun rose as we were headed towards the end of the island and the colors were really beautiful. Once we were in daylight we went past my very favorite Atlantic City landmark, Lucy the Elephant. Lucy was built in 1881 by an architect who specialized in animal-shaped novelty buildings. Lucy’s “sister” building was the Elephant Hotel in my home training waters of Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York. This building had a salacious history as an attraction, hotel, and even a brothel before burning down in a tragic fire in 1896. These structures also inspired an elephant shaped brothel/opium den at the iconic Moulin Rouge in Paris around 1900 during the world’s fair, which is featured in the movie, “Moulin Rouge!” Lucy is the only elephant hotel structure that survives today.
After we hit Longport we headed into the back bay where the scenery changed and the water felt a lot warmer. It was great to swim past so many cute vacation homes, the Coast Guard building, and other landmarks. The tide changed a couple of times but Captain Stu had timed it well so that even when the flow was against us, we were still able to make progress. We went under some bridges and even had other boats join us at times. Lots of friendly people waving and even cheering from the edge of the water when they saw us go by – so nice!
After a few more hours we started to see the casinos again and I knew we were almost there. For the final stretch Arik and I needed to separate from the motorized boat to go into a small channel where it was too shallow to bring the larger boat. This is the classic route established by the original swim because the escort boats were rowboats, but a swimmer could theoretically do a bit more if they wanted to go the longer route. I would recommend a kayak in addition to the motorized boat either way. Just after 3pm we came back into Gardner’s Basin and the swim was over. We said goodbye to Captain Stu then headed back to the hotel to rest and shower.
Atlantic City has a ton of different options for accommodation, restaurants, and entertainment so there is plenty of choice on hotels depending on your preferences, and lots to do before/after your swim.