Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

Peekskill Herald

This trio swam across Hudson to raise funds for a river pool


My wife Natalie and I swam through the Hudson River from Newburgh to Beacon with my Aunt Bea as part of a fundraiser supporting the River Pool. Although the distance across was almost exactly one mile, we couldn’t tell how far we swam, since the current pushed us downstream half the time and the tide pushed us back upstream the other. We measured our progress by the piers of the Newburgh-Beacon Bridge.

At about four piers in, we remembered to enjoy the experience. The water was around 80 degrees but felt even warmer at the surface. Floating on my back in view of Storm King Mountain and Breakneck Ridge, I felt like someone had scribbled me onto a Thomas Cole painting. Then I rejoined Natalie and Bea in our flying V formation.

From a kayak in Annsville Creek, you can see striped bass swimming beneath your paddle. In the middle of the Hudson, we couldn’t even see our hands underwater. But the river was silty, not unhealthy. We were glad the water felt more like a pond than an ocean because it helped us forget the depth was almost 200 feet.

The wind picked up during the second half of the swim, and the river became choppier. The three of us monitored each other by calling out “Yellow/Pink/White – do you read me??” referencing the respective colors of the swim caps the organizers gave us. Reaching the shore was the happiest I’ve ever been to arrive at the Beacon train station.

I’m not the strongest swimmer you’ll meet, but the crowd included all ages and various abilities. At the starting line, a seasoned athlete using a walker cried out “I can hardly walk anymore, but I can still swim!” before shuffling down the dock. Dozens of kayakers volunteered to escort the peloton across the river, so we never felt unsafe.

The purpose of the event, in addition to raising money, was to remind us that the Hudson River is clean enough and safe enough to swim in. We owe that to our neighbors who have fought for legislation like the Clean Water Act. Now that the silt has cleared, we feel lucky to live along the River.

Peekskill resident Peter Erwin, 33 and wife Natalie Oshukany, 33, and Peter’s aunt Bea Stern, 66 raised funds for the Beacon nonprofit River Pool by their swim. Peter, who works for Peekskill’s Planning Department is interested in a local teaching him how to fish!