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Geraldton-born swimmer Joanne Norman conquers Manhattan Island to complete second triple crown challenge

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Jake Santa MariaGeraldton Guardian
Joanne Norman coming up to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge in the East River.
Camera IconJoanne Norman coming up to the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge in the East River. Credit: Supplied

A former Geraldton woman has taken New York in style by conquering a mammoth challenge to swim almost 50km around Manhattan.

Marathon swimmer Joanne Norman (nee Davis) has now achieved her second challenge in the triple crown of open water swimming.

On Sunday, July 17, at 10.20am (New York City Time) Norman kicked off her challenge to swim 49.2km in a loop around Manhattan Island through New York’s East, Harlem and Hudson rivers.

It was a 29C day with a water temperature of around 17C as Norman was accompanied by her support crew, a kayaker, observer, lead boater and operations person who were on watch for a safe and successful swim.

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The water varied throughout the swim from going against the current in the East and Hudson rivers to be carried forward by the current in the Harlem river.

This was her second challenge in the triple crown series after a successful crossing of 36km of the English Channel from Dover to France in July 2021.

Norman said this swim was more challenging than crossing the Channel.

“The 20 Bridges swim was the more difficult swim mainly because I had such perfect conditions for my English Channel swim last year,” she said.

“I knew the distance wasn’t going to be an issue as I swam close to that last year in the Channel but here I was subject to the effects of Sunday boat traffic in the East and Hudson rivers, under eddies and debris floating in the river.

“I had to stop several times and adjust my swim course to avoid floating planks of wood in the Hudson.”

Joanne Norman with one of her support crew post swim
Camera IconJoanne Norman with one of her support crew post swim Credit: Supplied

She completed the swim in eight hours, six minutes and 12 seconds

“It was tough on the home straight that for sure, the mighty Hudson proved just how mighty she is,” she said.

When asked what drove her to complete these swims, Norman said it was purely about challenging herself.

“I complete these swims for me, I enjoy pushing my boundaries both physically and mentally — there is a lot of satisfaction completing these swims knowing the amount of work that has gone into preparing for them,” she said.

“It also takes a village to complete them and I am really blessed to have a very big village who supports me during training and on swim day, without them I couldn’t swim.”

Joanne Norman with her team after completing her swim
Camera IconJoanne Norman with her team after completing her swim Credit: Supplied

The final triple crown swim is from Catalina Island to San Diego, a distance of 32km in the open ocean which Norman said she was planning to complete next year.

“I’ve done two, so I may as well complete the third. I’m looking at a slot for Sept/Oct 2023,” she said.

To date, 269 people have completed the triple crown, and should she be successful Norman would be the 34th Australian to achieve the feat.

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