"... The visibility in some of the waterways surrounding Manhattan is so poor that a swimmer can barely see his own hands. The water is cold, the currents are powerful and debris can include plastic bags and dead fish. ..."
“...For each swimmer or team, there needs to be a powerboat and a kayak escort, and we can’t get the O.K. to have more boats out there,” Lisa Gilson, a member of the event’s advisory board, said. "..."
Most of the entry fee goes toward hiring the escort boats, which guide the swimmers through the race, ensure their safety and hold their crew.
Kathy Jaeger, captain of Team Barbie, a four-person relay team, said she was disappointed when her team landed far down on the waiting list for the main event. But her team eagerly accepted an invitation to participate in a quiet swim.
“It gives you a totally different view of Manhattan,” Jaeger said about swimming around the island. “When I went under the Brooklyn Bridge, I did backstroke so I could look up. When you swim past Yankee Stadium, nothing can beat it.” [Link] (Login required)