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June 23, 2012

Eyeing the Triple Crown

Port's Davis Lee to swim around island of Manhattan

Davis Lee is taking his family to New York City this weekend. You might think their to-do list includes the Empire State Building, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, maybe a Broadway show.

No. He’s swimming around the island of Manhattan. That’s into the Hudson, counterclockwise up the East River, veer left into the Harlem River and back down the Hudson. He figures it will take him around eight hours to complete the 28.5 miles.

Lee, 36, is attempting to be the 50th person on record to complete what the U.S. swimming community calls the ‘Triple Crown’: Swimming the English Channel, Catalina Island-to-San Pedro, Calif., and around the island of Manhattan.

He did the first two, and oh, the stories he has. On Saturday, he’ll be one of three swimmers in the field of 73 attempting to complete the Triple Crown. The Manhattan Island Marathon is an actual event, in its 30th year, with prizes to the fastest male and female, fastest pair, etc …

But Lee isn’t there to win anything. “I’m there to complete, not so much compete,” Lee said.

“His goal is to finish and get the Triple Crown and move on to another event,” said Andrew Soracco, his coach of three years, who trains swimmers and triathletes. “Davis’ greatest strength is his mind. Things that would freak people out just don’t bother him. His positive attitude gets him everywhere he goes.”

There is logic and timing that go with circumnavigating Manhattan. And Lee, with a doctorate in physics from MIT, a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins and an undergraduate degree from the University of Mary Washington, has been diligent in mapping the course.

“It may be the easiest of the three, but it’s nothing to scoff at,” he explained. “You have to be prepared physically. You have to know what the tides and currents are. There is weather to contend with, traffic, pollution, wildlife.”

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