Vol. LXI, No. 25
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
FATHER'S DAY: Princeton resident Ron Bowman gets ready to take the plunge last Saturday in the annual Manhattan Island Marathon Swim. Bowman and son Connor, a rising senior at the Hun School, became the first father-son relay team to complete the gruelling 28.5-mile event that attracts swimmers from all over the world.
A thunderstorm bombed the Bronx last Saturday afternoon, interrupting the proceedings as the Yankees hosted the Mets in the latest installment of their annual Subway Series.
While the delay was an inconvenience for the baseball fans packing Yankee Stadium, the storm was far more than a minor irritation for Ron Bowman.
As the storm approached, Bowman was swimming in the Hudson River, midway through his second leg in the annual Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, a gruelling 28.5-mile test that attracted 65 swimmers from all over the world.
"When the storm kicked up, the waves on the river were like ocean waves," recalled Bowman, 46, a Princeton resident. "You had to plough under the waves; it really messed up your breathing."
Bowman, who was doing the event as a two-man relay team with his son, Connor, a rising senior at the Hun School, wasn't sure whether they were going to get to finish.
"There was a stoppage due to the lightning," said Bowman, who did two 2-hour legs with Connor swimming three for their "Bowman Boys" team. "I was thinking you can't stop this race now with four miles left. The delay lasted for an hour. You would think the rest would be good but it stiffens you up."
The swimmers were eventually allowed to go back into the water and Bowman completed his leg.
His son faced a tougher challenge as he had to set a hard pace in order to finish before the current changed and the time cut off took effect. The younger Bowman rose to the occasion, digging deep to get the team to the line.
The Bowman Boys clocked a final time of 10:32:24 to finish third among the two-person relays at the event.
"Connor was awesome," said Bowman. "He had gone hypothermic twice and he really had to swim well in the last leg. It was tough, the storm doesn't change the currents so the current was going to be going against the swimmers if they didn't finish in time."
For Bowman, completing the race with his son was an early Father's Day gift. "No one had ever done this as a father-son team," said Bowman. "I love swimming with my son and my daughter (Ceara). Those are irreplaceable moments."
Connor, for his part, had plenty of moments of pain in the wake of the swim. "I am really sore all over, my legs, shoulders, and neck," said Bowman in reflecting on the event in which each team is accompanied by a escort boat and kayak. "It feels good to have finished."
The younger Bowman acknowledged that it didn't feel too good to swim at times on Saturday. "The water was really cold," said Bowman. "My legs went numb and then I couldn't feel them," said Bowman. "When I got out of the water I thought I was making sense but everyone said I was just mumbling. My dad had a friend/trainer on the boat and wrapped me in blankets, gave me a sweatshirt and some hot tea."
Bowman knew he faced a big challenge as he got into the water for his final leg of the day. "The boat captain said the current was going to change so I had to push it or get caught in the current taking us the other way," said Bowman. "I got in and really blasted it. I got sore; I probably went out too fast."
For Ron Bowman, the achievement was something he will savor for a long time. "Swimming around Manhattan is great; it's something that really sucks you in," said Bowman, who completed the event last year on a six-man team with Connor and four other swimmers.
"The stars were lined up for us. Connor is going to college soon and we won't have the chance to do this too many more times. He had to go so hard to finish; he went faster in his third leg than his first two."
The younger Bowman was proud to have the chance to be part of the first father-son team to compete in this event. "It's cool to do it with my dad; it means a lot," said Bowman. "There has never been a father-son relay team; you could say we made history."
And in the process, the Bowmans showed that some stormy waters weren't any match for their resolve.
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