BATTERY PARK CITY — Hundreds of swimmers took the plunge into the Hudson River on Saturday for the Great Hudson River Swim, the season opener event for NYC Swim, a local recreational group.
Swimmers wore special dive suits to combat the chilly temperatures of the water (about 64 degrees) to swim the 1.6-mile course down the Hudson.
Starting from Christopher Street Pier in the West Village, the swimmers stroked their way to the finish line at the North Cove Yacht Harbor in Battery Park City.
Hundreds of people cheered them on as they trawled through choppy waters and battled against a strong current.
"I think this is a great event," said local resident Carol Wang, 42. "It's fun to watch, and I'm real glad I was here today to cheer them all on."
Rick Krupa, a volunteer that helped marshall the event and also ensured that all participants reached the finish line safely, was thrilled with this year's turnout.
"I think we had over 500 swimmers this year," he said. "As well as the weather holding out, all the swimmers had a great time out there today."
Participant Minda Dentler, 34, from New York City, who was thrilled to have finished the swim.
"It's the first time I've swam this event and it's also the longest distance I've swam so far," said the disabled swimmer. "The river was a bit choppy and it was a tough challenge, but I'm glad I finished the course."
NYC Swim has been organizing swimming events in the waters around Manhattan including Liberty Island, the Manhattan Island Marathon, Brooklyn Bridge and Governors Island since 1993, noted Hannah Borgeson, a member of NYC Swim.
"This was our seasonal opener and we had a record-sized field today," she said.
Swimming in the waters of New York City dates back to the 1800s and NYC Swim is dedicated to reviving what they call, "a local aquatic tradition."
The next NYC Swim event takes place in the East River on June 16. For more information, visit NYC Swim's website at www.nycswim.org.