As a result of recent clean-up efforts, New York City’s waterways have seen increased residential development at shorelines and recreational activities in the water. One of these has Williamsburg resident Andrew Malinak swimming 28.5 miles, to raise money and attention for a cause.
On June 23rd, Malinak will participate in the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS), an open-water race all the way around Manhattan. Although swimming the NYC waterways is a tradition dating back to the 1800s, it wasn’t until 1993 that MIMS began, with 12 competitors. It is now part of the “triple crown” of open-water swimming, together with the Catalina and English Channel crossings.
Malinak, who swam competitively from grade school until college, is Brooklyn’s sole representative among 43 other swimmers from 12 countries and 14 US states taking part swim.
For three years, Malinak has sought entry to the competition, which can take up to nine hours to complete. To prepare, he practices at the Metropolitan Recreation Center in Williamsburg and in open-water in New York City parks. Adding to his motivation is his goal to raise $5,000 for Swim Free, an organization that helps people with anxiety about swimming. After volunteering there, he wanted to spread his love of the sport with others. “I find swimming really relaxing and rewarding,” he said. “There is something about water that I really like being around and working with.”
Marjorie Spitz of Swim Free, who worked with Malinak at the Brooklyn Bridge Swim and at the Westchester Triathlon said, “He really put forth an amazing fundraising plan and he has an amazing passion about the sport so we gave him one of our spots [in MIMS]. … I’m just so impressed with Andrew and we are grateful to have him on board. We do anything we can to support his fundraising and swim.”
Thus far, Malinak has raised $400, and has a fundraising event scheduled for Thursday, Feb 2nd at Fiddlesticks Irish Pub in the West Village. For a $10 donation, he’s offering happy hour prices from 7 p.m. until 10 p.m. One hundred percent of the proceeds are going towards his initiative. “If I had the option of accepting $1,000 from one donor, or $5 from 1,000 people, I’d [choose the latter],” he said. “I would really like to see people know more about swimming and become part of the community.”
Each MIMS competitor will receive the assistance of at least one kayaker, a motorboat, and support crew person to help with feedings, navigation, and any issues that may arise. According to Hannah Borgeson, who runs community support and registration at NYC Swim, the organization that produces MIMS, the goal is to raise awareness about open waters in the city. “The number one priority is to have a safe event,” she said. “We want everybody to finish. We also hope that the swim calls attention to how clean the water is around Manhattan. We want people to realize that the water is a great recreational resource.”
Although the nearly 30-mile swim around Manhattan may seem daunting, Malinak is excited to begin what he anticipates is a just a foray into more marathon swimming. “This is going to be my longest race and I hope it’s not my last longest race,” he said. “Every time I do a race around 10 plus miles, it’s a learning experience. It’s always a little different. I hope MIMS is the start of another really long swim.”