NYC SWIM

Media Articles View Article

SWIMMERS IN PERIL IN RACE TO CONEY

Posted online: Monday, 25 July 1910

ONE SWIMMER SANK TWICE


Show article image

Too Few Guard Boats Leave Many in Danger in the Long Struggle Down the Bay.

ONE SWIMMER SANK TWICE

High Waves and Heavy Tids Too Strong for Life Guards Who Started from the Battery.

It was hardly the fault of any of the swimmers in the United Stales "Volunteer Life-Saving- Corps's endurance swim yesterday that none of them reached the final goal that had been set for them at Coney Island. Had the race been started at 9:30 A. M., the scheduled time, or within an hour of it, several of the sturdy swimmers would have completed the thirteen-mile grind, but so late was it before the starting pistol was fired that the Tide was running in strong at the Potato Patch at Norton's Point at 3:30 P. M. when the swimmers came to it and they found in it their Waterloo, as not even a rowboat could pull through it with the Current and wind that prevailed.
The furthest that any could go was to Norton's Point, a distance of eleven miles from the Battery, whence all had started. Clifford H. Benedict of Roton's Point, South Norwalk. Conn., made this landing first. His time was four hours and eight seconds. Arthur O'Neill of Eath Beach came in a close second at the same place, with Philip Tattersall of Brooklyn and Leonard Levy of Asbury Park fighting it out a mile and a half behind. These were the only four to1 complete the eleven miles, though several others came very near to doing so.
As it was no fault of the swimmers that none of them finished the thirteen miles, so it was not their fault that none of them was drowned For the thirty men that started there were only sixteen rowboats and a few launches that were pressed into service from those that were passing. Sometimes two of the swimmers were allowed to swim for half an hour at a. lime with not another bout within a quarter of a mile of them, a fact that drew the attention of the police boat and several times brought her beating down upon Commodore Mason's sloop to demand that provision be made to watch the met battling in the heavy waves and wind.
The seriousness or such neglect was shown when Otto Michaels came near to drowning at a point not far below Governors Island. He had been swimming strong and was in apparently good condition when the Commodore's boat went by, and though some remarked that lie was pretty far away from any attending row-beat, he was left to pursue his way almost unnoticed. But suddenly when the sloop had gone on about a. quarter of a mile it was noticed that Michaels was in trouble, the nearest rowboat wildly waving danger flags. As soon as possible the unwieldy sloop was brought about and headed for the place where the swimmer had been seen last. It was evident, though, that the rowboat was to beat out the heavier boat, and after what seemed an age to the anxious men who were responsible for the swimmers, one of the life savors in the rowboat dived overboard.
It was not for several minutes after this that the sloop came within close range. When she did it was just in time to see Michaels dragged in over the gunwale of the rowboat. He lay limp and apparently dead in the bottom. It seems that not long after the sicop had sailed by him he was seized with cramps, and I after a short struggle cried out and then sank. Fortunately for Michaels, Fred Gutterman of the Sixty-fourth Street Division of the United States Volunteer Corps, m the nearest rowboat, saw the swimmer's distress and at once I turned the boat to save his life. But I Michaels had sonic once before Gutter-man could get rear enough to dive over for him. As Gutterman dived Michaels rise to the surface and sank again as Gutterman seized him. Michaels was lifted aboard the sloop, where Dr. G. A. Carlucci of Bellevue had an hour's hard labor, with the assistance of the others on board, to revive him. Finally he did come to and was taken care of on board.
For the first mile the swimmers were in about as great, if not greater, danger than when they struck the undercurrents of the " Potato Patch." through which all of the swimmers tried to pass. The river at noon was full of ferryboats and river craft of all descriptions, as well as of floating Debris. Hundreds of spectators had gathered on the Battery shore to watch the swimmers for this first mile, and they were not disappointed in the excitement that the contest afforded. Within the first fifteen minutes one of the men turned back, and the Commodore's sloop, which had but just cast off, raced back to see II he was in distress. It was nothing more important than that he had forgotten his clothing, and after this was deposited for him in a rowboat he sallied forth again.
After this mi)o had been passed arid some had gone on the outside of Governors Island and some through Buttermilk Channel, the latter contrary to orders, things went smoothly until below the island, when the wind freshened and the owaves grew higher. Besides Michaels, many others out of the thirty were picked up between here and the -Narrows, so that by the time the swimmers pulled out opposite Bay Kidge only the strongest were still in the race. At this point Benedict was well in the lead, though O'Neill was fighting hard for first place.
Down at the finishing point at Cones Island the shore was crowded for blocks cither way with people waiting for the swimmers to arrives, all of them having waited around more or less patiently for more than five hours. Finally at 6 o'clock the news of the finish of the race at Norton's Point came.
Commodore Mason was requested to make known what was to be d6ne with: the handsome medals that had been offered, and It was finally decided that they would be awarded as though the entire distance had been covered.

- The New York Times