Active City Spotlight: Triathlete's Guide to New York City

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A lot has been said about the waters surrounding New York City. Mostly, that they're dirty, disgusting cesspools that no human dare swim in. The popular television show Seinfeld even made light of it in an episode. When Kramer told Jerry he was swimming in the East River, Jerry responded, "The most heavily trafficked overly contaminated waterway on the eastern seaboard?"

The horrible reputation wasn't without some merit—once upon a time. But New York City's water has been cleaned up nicely over the last few decades, to the point that swimming in the Hudson River, the East River or the Atlantic Ocean to the south isn't unhealthy.

The New York City Triathlon, with its Hudson River swim, gets the question a lot. In the FAQs on their website, they answer it bluntly. "Water quality testing is done regularly. No vaccines, no shots, no panic attacks necessary. Calm down."

While Boulder, Colorado and San Diego, California are considered triathlon meccas, there's a huge endurance sports community in New York. We've covered running in New York and cycling in New York elsewhere. So here's a guide for triathletes visiting New York that covers swim spots, the best races, triathlon stores and more.

More: 3 Options to Consider When Traveling With Your Bike

Places to Swim

For open water swimming, many triathletes in the city flock to Brighton Beach in Brooklyn down by Coney Island. The notion of this beach being ideal for open water swimming is further advanced by CIBBOWS, a nonprofit organization that promotes open water swimming by offering weekly group swims at this beach and neighboring Coney Island.

Brighton Beach is south-facing into the Atlantic Ocean with water temperatures in the 60s during the summer.

Other popular spots

  • Other beaches that swimmers frequent are located in Staten Island (Midland Beach, Wolfe's Pond), Brooklyn (Manhattan Beach) and Queens (Rockaway Beach).
  • There are a few Olympic-size pools in the city: Two notable ones in Manhattan are Asphalt Green and Riverbank State Park.