Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming

Manhattan Island Swim

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The cherished goal of marathon swimmers

The International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame has created Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming, a special distinction for those swimmers who have completed certain designated swims.  The Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming is our equivalent of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing, and includes three swims as the cherished goal of marathon swimmers:

(1) 21 miles across the English Channel between England and France.
(2) 21 miles across the Catalina Channel between Santa Catalina Island and the Palos Verdes Peninsula west of Long Beach, California.
(3) 28.5 miles around Manhattan Island in New York.

I became the 89th person in history to complete the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming when we completed MIMS in June 2014.  Since then, the list has grown to 126.  I am humbled to be included on the same list with some real icons of marathon swimming, many of whom I have known and admired for many years.

Marathon Swimming

Marathon swimming is one of the only endurance sports where men and women complete at parity.  In fact, the average woman is faster than the average man.  Forty-seven of the Triple Crowners are women and, based on trends in the sport, women will become greater than 50% of the list within a few years.

Irrespective of gender, a swimmer’s age is also a factor.  Someone once said, “Youth is wasted on the young,” but the age range of the list of Triple Crowners is surprisingly diverse.  Having said that, the list of swimmers who are part of the “Half Century Club,” having completed all three legs of the Triple Crown over the age of 50 is pretty short.  I am 15th on that list, which holds special importance to the A Long Swim Team.

I didn’t start with marathon swimming to win awards, and the honor of the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming is just a milestone along a much longer road.  The Earth is two-thirds water, so we aren’t going to run out of channels, rivers, lakes or estuaries to swim any time soon.

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