Spencer Schneider - Montauk Peninsula
Ditch Plains, Montauk to Lazy Point, Napeague
10 hours, 4 minutes on September 19, 2015
Observed and documented by Gary Husslein
- Name: Spencer L. Schneider
- Gender: male
- Age on swim date: 55
- Nationality: United States
- Resides: New York, New York
- Previous marathon swims:
- 8 Bridges, Stage 4 (15.2 miles) - May 2015.
- Several 10K and 5K swims
- Observer: Gary Husslein
- Paddler and Crew: Amanda Foscolo
- Escort Vessel: Tandem kayak
- Description: Around Montauk Point (Long Island, New York), from Ditch Plains, Montauk to Lazy Point, Napeague.
- Bodies of Water: Atlantic Ocean, Block Island Sound, and Napeague Bay
- Category: Coastal, one-way, non-stop
- Certified Route Distance: 17.3 statute miles / 27.8 km
West of Ditch Plains jetty (Montauk, NY). 41.039628 N, 71.91454 W.
Standard beach entry from dry land.
Lazy Point (Napeague, NY). 41.012935 N, 72.057163 W.
Standard beach exit to dry land.
Intermediate Route Paramters
The certified route distance (17.3 statute miles) was determined according to the shortest swimmable path method: the sum of the distances between the start, finish, and each of the following waypoints:
|Description||Latitude||Longitude||Leg Distance (m)|
|End of jetty||41.038306||-71.914146||151|
|East End Rd||41.038325||-71.9087||457|
|Lake Montauk inlet||41.079985||-71.938474||3080|
|Napeague Harbor entrance||41.011937||-72.061611||691|
|W of Lazy Point||41.013024||-72.058731||270|
Hover over waypoints to view description.
MSF Standard, no exceptions or modifications.
- Start: September 19, 2015, 06:46:30 Eastern Daylight Time.
- Finish: 16:51:27.
- Elapsed: 10 hours, 4 minutes, 57 seconds.
- Summary of Conditions:
- Sea Temp: min 71F, max 74F
- Air Temp: min 72F, max 80F
- Wind: calm to 5mph
- Historical Claims: First known swim of this route
Statement on Tide Planning
We knew the tides and planned accordingly. We had the tide with us in the Atlantic Ocean headed towards the lighthouse. It was windless. We timed things so that the tide at the lighthouse, where the Atlantic Ocean and Block Island Sound meet, would be with us. That worked just fine and we hit it perfectly. When we got into Napeague Bay, a few miles later, we still had the tide with us. But with a wind coming against us, we slowed down considerably and the tide changed before we hit the end point.
- Track recorded with mid-1990s model Garmin GPSmap 76CS. During the swim, the GPS was located on the kayak.
- Blue markers represent the continuous track, and were not timestamped.
- Red markers represent timestamped waypoints that were manually activated at irregular intervals during the swim. Hover over the red markers to view the corresponding timestamp.
Screenshot of track as it appeared on the GPS device
Download Track Data
- Raw Garmin export (GPX).
- Manual waypoints - timestamped (CSV).
- Continuous track - non-timestamped (CSV).
Speed per Trackpoint
Swimmer Narrative Report
Ditch to Lazy Swim: September 19, 2015, from Ditch Plains, Montauk to Lazy Point, Napeague
First-person account of swim planning & execution. By Spencer L. Schneider
In August 2015, two days before I was to swim in the 15 mile Rose Pitonof Manhattan to Coney Island Swim, I fell off my Vespa. I wasn’t seriously hurt but I got 11 stitches. The doctor nixed any open water swims for at least 10 days, if not longer. To overcome my disappointment, I immediately started planning a substitute swim.
That weekend, I was introduced to Amanda Foscolo, by Lori King, my dear friend and swim-star hero. Like me (and Lori), Amanda also owns a home out in the East End of Long Island. Amanda is an experienced open water swimmer, kayaker, and knows the waters. She immediately (no hesitation) agreed to help plan and execute the swim as my kayaker. Amanda is a no hesitation kind of person. So is her dad, Gary Husslein, who enters the story on the next page. These are amazing people, lovely people. And I will always be grateful to them.
Anyhow, I wanted to design a comparable distance to the Pitonof swim, but I couldn’t decide whether I wanted to swim in the ocean or bay. I went to the library and took out Mike Bottini’s book Exploring East End Waters: A Natural History and Paddling Guide. His Montauk Peninsula Loop seemed perfect because it combines ocean and bay swimming.
Mike’s 10-mile loop circles around Montauk point from the Ocean to the bay and into Lake Montauk. A couple of Mike’s words whetted my appetite: “The route also includes stretches of challenging open water subject to ocean swells, wind and strong current, so a little planning is a good idea.” He goes on to explain how the currents at the Point are the strongest with a flood tide being able to “flush” a paddler and board around the point; “conversely” an ebb tide will do the opposite. Sounded perfect, but it was only 10 miles. I wanted 15.
I went through this with Amanda who suggested we end at the dog pier in Fort Pond Bay which would make it a touch under 12 miles. (Fort Pond Bay was once a harbor for navy boats and local lore is that it’s a shark breeding ground.) After going back and forth (Amanda and I were in constant touch for weeks), we decided to extend the route all the way to Lazy Point which is another several miles west. Those are beautiful miles of the coastal cliffs of Hither Hills State Park. The beach isn’t accessible unless you know the back-roads and have 4-wheel drive. In fact, except in a few spots, the entire swim had hardly any development. At Lazy Point there is a shell fish hatchery, an abandoned structure (on Hicks Island), wind-surfers, a boat launch, and some moored boats. Lazy Point is an entrance point to Napeague Harbor. Oh, and I also spoke to Mike Bottini about the route too. Mike is also an open water swimmer and he knows my abilities. He felt it would be a safe swim and that it only mattered that we time the tides and reschedule if the water conditions were bad.
So with the route planned, and it was truly a joint effort, we just needed to figure on a date, which we set for September 19th. Late September is the nicest time of year out in Montauk. The crowds are long gone and the water is almost as warm as it will be all year. About a week or so before the swim, I started thinking that it might be a good idea to get an observer to document the swim. Amanda, who seemed to be able to solve all issues, informed me that Gary would be visiting that weekend and might want to ride tandem in the kayak. Gary agreed and he was our man.
The day before the swim, Amanda wanted to scope out the end point at Lazy Point. We were trying to see if the old entrance to the harbor was still open, but we couldn’t tell. If it were open, the swim would be ~17.3 but if it were closed, it would be ~18 miles. Amanda looked on Google maps and it showed the old opening as open (turns out it wasn’t when we got there.) Next, we hopped into the car with her two daughters and friend and headed to another spot. This time we went on a back-road to check out the last 4-5 mile stretch of the swim, which is in Napeague Bay. As mentioned, this is the stretch with the cliffs. In this photo, behind Amanda and her 2 daughters, you can see the beginning of the cliffs. Its so gorgeous and its literally in my hood.
September 19, 2015. Splash was set for 7 am but I recall we started a little later. We met at the Ditch Plains surfer parking lot at about 6:30 am. There were about a dozen surfers already out there in the the water, which looked like a lake. This meant that we didn’t have to do Plan B: a start at the point, just north of – and away from – the turbulent Atlantic.
Gary and Amanda got the boat ready. They launched. Gary blew the horn and it was my signal to get in the water. I expected, if we got the Bottini current right, I’d be done in about 7-8 hours. Took me 10. I’ll get to that shortly, because frankly after almost five months, its kind of hard to remember what happened during all that time. I don’t know about other marathon swimmers, but in my few long swims, the hours and miles become compressed into “moments.” There were three such moments in this swim – (1) the ~4 miles leg from Ditch to the Point, in the ocean; (2) the ~8 mile leg from the Point to the end of Fort Pond Bay (Rocky Point); and (3) the ~6 mile leg from the end of Fort Pond Bay to Lazy Point.
Leg one was gorgeous and uneventful. The water was clear and I could see some fish and also a lot of large boulders. The sun hung low over the water. We were headed towards it. Water temp was fine. I remember seeing Andy Warhol’s old estate up there on the cliffs. The feeds went fine and my crew and observer were enjoying this beautiful morning. They took quite a few photos.
We got to the lighthouse right on schedule. I remember there being a lot of boats around and Gary blew his horn. Before I knew it, we were literally right by the Montauk Lighthouse. It was thrilling. The tide was perfect and we got a nice push around the tip.
Leg two also went smoothly. As we approached Gin Beach, I was beginning to get a little chilly even though the water was in the high 70’s. Amanda gave me a warm feed and some M&M’s at some point around here. At this point, Amanda was calling my friend Molly Brown to coordinate with her. We had agreed that she would swim the third leg with me. We were pretty excited. As we approached the rendezvous point, we were met by Tim Treadwell who was manning the East Hampton Marine Patrol Boat. Tim is a great friend and the coach of the local masters. Seeing him lifted our spirits.
When we reached the beginning of the third leg, we started looking for Molly in the water. She was supposed to swim out to us. No sign of her. We never did meet up. And this kind of bummed us all out. And things went down-hill for the next 6 miles.
Although we had the tide working for us, the wind picked up, against us. I was beginning to get really cold. But I could see radio tower looming in the horizon which is where Lazy Point is. So despite the adversity, I knew that the end was in sight and we were going to make it. My spirits were about 5 on the 1-10 happiness scale; which is managing.
At about this point, I started to ask Amanda how much longer we had till the end, basically because I couldn’t really tell. The tower was getting no bigger. And it seemed like I was standing still. Amanda told me to keep going, ignoring my question. Same question at the next feed and I got the same non-answer from Amanda. Now I was down to 3 on the happiness scale. And I told myself that at the next feed I wouldn’t accept anymore Amanda’s evasiveness. And it still didn’t seem like we were getting anywhere, although it was gorgeous out there. Although I had not asked for the time, the sun was going down and it was concerning me. I really didn’t know how much longer I could swim. And now the tide was shifting against us.
At the next feed I really gave it to Amanda and demanded a concrete answer. I can tell you that Amanda wasn’t feeling too happy either – probably about a 3 on the happiness scale. She conceded that she didn’t know how much longer it would take and insisted there was no reason I needed to know this. I countered that I had to conserve and plan. She scoffed at this and by the end of this exchange, we both descended about 2 more points on the happiness scale.
Luckily, we were about 30 minutes till the end. After about 10 hours, we hit land. Lazy Point. I kind of jogged on shore. Theo, Amanda’s husband, came running towards with me a bottle of champagne. But he stopped about 50 feet away from me seeing that I was in no damned mood to be sprayed. Got my towel. Walked over to Amanda and Gary. She was exhausted, Gary was chipper. I wanted to patch things up with Amanda.
She was totally fine but a little tired – she had done so much. Gary looked like maybe he had walked a mile at most – he’s kind of an iron man.
I sat in Gary’s car for a bit. I was bushed. He and Amanda’s mom (a terrific lady) drove me back to Ditch to get my car. It’s a 9ish mile drive. Sitting in car, I couldn’t quite conceive that I had just swam twice as far as the drive.
Click to enlarge
NOAA Buoy Data - Station MTKN6