Rose Pitonof Centennial Swim

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Terry O'Malley at the Rose Pitonof Centennial Swim
Rose Pitonof Centennial Swim course
Rose Pitonof
The Rose Pitonof Centennial Swim is an marathon swim that requires swimmer to swim from Manhattan to Coney Island in New York. Deanne Draeger founded the marathon swim on 13 August 2011, the 100th anniversary of Rose Pitonof's historic 17-mile swim from East 26th Street on Manhattan Island to the Steeplechase Pier on Coney Island.

Pitonof was known by her title of World’s Champion Long Distance Swimmer.


Rose Pitonof

Rose Pitonof Weene (19 April 1895 – 15 June 1984) was a marathon swimmer from Dorchester, Massachusetts.

In 1910 at the age of 15, she won the 8-mile Boston Light Swim in a record time of 6 hours 50 minutes. Seven men started the competition with her, but did not finish. She was the first woman to ever complete the event. After her Boston Light Swim, Rose became a Vaudeville performer. "My act was part of a larger Vaudeville program, but I was the headliner. They built a tank of water on the stage, and I would exhibit some of my strokes and dives."

On August 13, 1911, she swam from East 26th Street to Steeplechase Pier, earning the woman’s title of Long Distance Swimming Champion of the World. The distance is 17 miles which she swam mostly breaststroke and ate a chicken sandwich and a cup of coffee. An estimated 50,000 people were reported to have cheered her on at Coney Island.

In 1912 she attempted to swim across the English Channel, but she never got her chance and swam the Thames instead.

In 1913 she made attempts to swim from the Manhattan Battery to Sandy Hook, New Jersey.

Pitonof died on June 15, 1984 at the age of 89.

2011 Event Results

1. Lori Carena: 5:47:08
2. Cara McAteer 5:51:05
3. Leonard Jansen: 6:01:15
4. Jaimie Monahan: 6:03:48
5. Alan Morrison: 6:09:04
6. Jason Malick: 6:24:53

Three generations of Rose Pitonof's family were at the 2011 event to celebrate: a great-great-granddaughter Evelyn Rose helped put the medal around the winner's neck.

Photos are posted here and here.

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