Swimming in the Delaware River

dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

Hey folk,

My coach and I have discussed the possibility of an escorted solo marathon swim in the Delaware River. At this point, it's still in the maybe category, so no promises, just a sort of trial balloon.

I want to do a double digit mile swim (10-12 miles), and possible swims include Stage 6 of 8 Bridges (longer than my goal distance, but I LOVED .Spuyten Duyvil, and like the idea of going longer in the Hudson), StS, and Kingdom, i hadnt thought much about just a private escorted swim until my coach mentioned the idea.

Benefit: closer to home, so saving travel $, and a whole new place to swim; cost...well, literally, I don't know what it would cost to arrange an observer, crew, support boat....all my other marathon swims have been part of organized events; other points I wonder about...ive enjoyed the camaraderie of other swimmers dealing w the same conditions. Als the organizers deal w boat traffic.

So....

  1. What's your experience w swimming in the Delaware? What sorts of 10-12 mile stretches are there that would work for what I'd have in mind?

2.. What is your experience doing an individual swim as opposed to something that's under the umbrella of an event? What pluses and caveats can you offer?

I'd love to try something new. I'm 68, and want to do as much as possible while I'm healthy and in reasonably good shape. More and more aware that we don't have forever to shoot for our goals. And I have so much I want to experience!

Comments

  • SoloSolo B.C. CanadaMember

    Do it! Build a team and go for it. A coach once told me “We don’t train for ‘easy’ !” Win or lose the adventure will last you a lifetime of memories.

    dpm50Kate_AlexanderCopelj26
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    True and wise. Thank you!

    Also, nuts and bolts how to suggestions welcome, as a marathon swim not connected to an event would be uncharted territory for me.

    Also true of the Delaware River. I've taken trains over it "Trenton makes. The world takes." And I've hiked along the Delaware Canal towpath. But swimming IN the river? Not yet.

    Solo said: Do it! Build a team and go for it. A coach once told me “We don’t train for ‘easy’ !” Win or lose the adventure will last you a lifetime of memories.

    Solo
  • AnthonyMcCarleyAnthonyMcCarley Berwyn, PACharter Member

    dpm50... Swims not organized by others are great experiences. You get a steep learning curve and the joy of doing something special.

    As you know, I am local to you, but I don't know much about the Delaware. My first questions are (1) Is it clean enough to swim in safely? and (2) Are there spots that are deep enough to swim and are safe from ship and boat traffic? and (3) Is it legal?

    I don't have the skill set to be a legit Observer (Evan and others have really upped the standards), but I would be happy to crew for you.

    dpm50
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Legal?! Now there's an angle I hadn't thought about! Good points all. I posted on the Philly Canoe Club page, and I'll pass along your questions.

    Thanks for the crew offer! May well take you up on it!

  • rosemarymintrosemarymint Charleston, SCCharter Member

    You may want to contact the coast guard as I believe they have jurisdiction over the waterway. it's a primary shipping lane, similar to the Hudson, and also has a ton of heavy industry in sections. It's heavily polluted in areas, so please reach out to the waterkeeper for advice on water quality.

    Another potential option is a swim across the bay near the mouth. A team did it back in 2011 and then Meghan Wren did it in 2013. The currents in the river/bay are as strong, if not stronger, than they are in the Hudson.

    AnthonyMcCarleyIronMikedpm50
  • Swimmer18Swimmer18 PennsylvaniaMember

    Depending upon which part of the Delaware you are thinking about swimming might answer some of the questions. North of New Hope I know there is rafting. Water quality seems to have been good when I have been up there. It should be deep enough as well. Looks like you could probably work out several swims of about 8 miles each from Frenchtown to Lumberville, Lumberville to New Hope, New Hope to Yardley (or just north of due to bridge construction) and then finish up with Trenton to Burlington (approx. 14 miles). I have been told swimming is not illegal in these spots - just not encouraged.

    Be happy to help out any way I can.

    AnthonyMcCarleyIronMike
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Thank you all for your comments. @John_Kenny, a wealth of ideas!

  • j9swimj9swim CharlestonSenior Member

    If you need an observor let me know. if i'm available i'd be happy to come down and document for you.

    dpm50
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member
    edited November 20

    That would be cool!

    j9swim said: If you need an observor let me know. if i'm available i'd be happy to come down and document for you.

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    This is possibly a suggestion that might not seem relevant, but hear me out.

    Have you checked historical newspapers for swims done in the Delaware? There was a time (early 1900s) when outdoor swimming and marathon swimming races were a thing. (I've found a number of them for decades in the early 1900s in the Potomac.) Perhaps there is a history of swims in the Delaware river near where you live?

    The point, Mike? Well, if you find some historical swims, that could help when/if there comes a time that local government or coast guard or harbor masters (??) challenge your swimming in the Delaware. Wouldn't it be neat to be able to retort: I'm repeating the route that hometown girl Maggie Smith swam for the first time in 1902, or something along those lines...

    Just a thought.

    AnthonyMcCarleydpm50gregoc

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

  • edited November 21

    I know from when I grew up in NJ people would go just south of Trenton to Bordentown to the "Beach" which was later turned into a boat ramp and splash around. From just north of this area down past Roebling/Florence there's plenty of water to swim in. I am not sure what the water quality would be like. We used to enjoy going out in the boat or riding jetskis in this area. Now, you're going back 15 years or so.

    As Swimmer18 mentioned, there's definitely plenty of river to swim south of Trenton to Burlington. I would suggest it isn't encouraged due to heavy boat traffic from recreational vehicles and fisherman. I have seen plenty of guys out there looking for catfish. Then again about 15 years ago a Beluga went up the Delaware to this same area. It was great to watch.

    dpm50
  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Yeah, the boat traffic worries me. In event based swims,was of an issue. But a solo swimmer would be harder to spot. Could always wear flowers in my hair.....sunflowers! :D

    Solo
  • I did the Escape the Cape 3 mile swim in Delaware Bay last summer. It was very fast, with the current, swim. Coming back from Cape May, on the same ferry I jumped off of earlier in the day, I was wondering if anyone had swam Cape May to Lewes... I did a little research and found it has been swam, yes with a wetsuit. While I understand you were looking for swims in the river part, I just thought I'd mention this as a 15 mile route in that area that also could be interesting.

    dpm50
  • malinakamalinaka Seattle, WACharter Member

    Back in my wild college days, I did the Escape from Fort Delaware triathlon which landed in Delaware City. The fire department was waiting at the end of the swim with a hose running because the previous year there were some very bad rashes from the river water. Anecdotal for sure, but consider that DuPont Chambers Works in Penns Grove would accept, "treat", and dump into the river literally anything that did not foam - including deactivated nerve gas from Aberdeen. I guess what I'm saying is, be careful around the industrial bits of that river.

    dpm50

    I don't wear a wetsuit; it gives the ocean a sporting chance.

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    I did that Escape swim also. Lots of fun, despite some mild jellyfish stings. Hadn't thought of an extended version of that swim. Thanks for the suggestion!

    MeesaGonnaSwim said: I did the Escape the Cape 3 mile swim in Delaware Bay last summer. It was very fast, with the current, swim. Coming back from Cape May, on the same ferry I jumped off of earlier in the day, I was wondering if anyone had swam Cape May to Lewes... I did a little research and found it has been swam, yes with a wetsuit. While I understand you were looking for swims in the river part, I just thought I'd mention this as a 15 mile route in that area that also could be interesting.

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Sobering! When I've run the Delaware Distance Classic in Delaware City, my favorite section is along the canal. Lately I ask myselfhow it would be to swim there, although I see NO SWIMMING signs....

    malinaka said: Back in my wild college days, I did the Escape from Fort Delaware triathlon which landed in Delaware City. The fire department was waiting at the end of the swim with a hose running because the previous year there were some very bad rashes from the river water. Anecdotal for sure, but consider that DuPont Chambers Works in Penns Grove would accept, "treat", and dump into the river literally anything that did not foam - including deactivated nerve gas from Aberdeen. I guess what I'm saying is, be careful around the industrial bits of that river.

  • dpm50dpm50 PA, U.S.Senior Member

    Another thought--what experience do you folks have with PA lakes? The ones I know about in my area have open water swimming, but they're usually organized around events (Marsh Creek, Blue Marsh, Nockamixon.... also some in NJ, although less familiar with those). I would love to do something not too far from home ($ saving, although let's face it, I do dream of some faraway swims too--but would be great to do an escorted solo swim locally as it saves tons of travel and hotel dollars which can then be focused on the swim itself).

  • IronMikeIronMike BostonCharter Member

    dpm50 said: Another thought--what experience do you folks have with PA lakes? The ones I know about in my area have open water swimming, but they're usually organized around events (Marsh Creek, Blue Marsh, Nockamixon.... also some in NJ, although less familiar with those). I would love to do something not too far from home ($ saving, although let's face it, I do dream of some faraway swims too--but would be great to do an escorted solo swim locally as it saves tons of travel and hotel dollars which can then be focused on the swim itself).

    @LBJ was the expert on PA lakes. Haven't seen him for a while though...

    Please join the Lake Issyk Kul Swimming Federation on FB!

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