Storch breaks two records in 32-hour swim around Manhattan

Updated: August 31, 2007, 2:07 AM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Exhausted and shriveled from nearly a day and a half in the water, Skip Storch completed a record swim Thursday by circling the island of Manhattan three times in 32 hours, 52 minutes, 30 seconds.

He beat the previous record by 37:30, and set a record for two trips around Manhattan, which he did in 20:56:17.

As he crossed the finish in the East River, off E. 96th Street, his support boats honked their horns and he raised his fist in the air.

"This definitely was the most difficult swim I ever did," Storch said.

Storch struggled after his first lap and needed to have his wrist taped by a nurse on one of his support boats. The treatment was complicated because the nurse couldn't touch him, lest he invalidate the record attempt. Three-foot swells on the Hudson River that Storch said were "pretty vicious" also caused him to swallow salt water, making him sick.

"I was so cold," Storch said.

Storch was swimming to raise money for the sarcoidosis treatment program at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Many New Yorkers -- Storch among them -- contracted the disease since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11 sent clouds of contaminated dust into the air around the city.

Sarcoidosis is an inflammation that produces tiny clumps of cells in various organs that can eventually affect their functioning.

Storch planned his swim to take advantage of stronger tidal currents than usual. He rode the tide out down the Hudson and up the East River three times, pausing to tread water and take nutrition when the currents, some of which move at up to 4 knots, would be against him.

Matthew Goldberg, who owns the lead support boat "9th Wonder," said tourist boats, water taxis and other vessels helped Storch out, including the hulking Staten Island Ferry.

"No one holds up the Staten Island Ferry except for Skip Storch," Storch said.

The previous record for the 85-mile trip was 33 hours, 30 minutes, set by Stacy Chanin in 1984, when she was 23.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press