Only 265 swimmers in the world have achieved The Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming
WATCH: After swimming the Manhattan Island Marathon, also known as “20 Bridges,” Gina Harden and Mel Tyrrell talk with the Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson. The swim, circling Manhattan Island, was approximately 29 miles and took a little less than nine hours.
WATCH: U.S. Navy Captain Gina Harden (Ret.), along with her friend, Melanie Tyrrell, will attempt to swim the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, also known as 20 Bridges, on Wednesday, June 15. This is the second leg of the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming that Harden has attempted. Last year, she completed the first leg, swimming the English Channel and will attempt the third leg later this year. Harden talks with the Friday Night Locker Room’s Steve Wilson about her love of the water, the upcoming swim and much more in this exclusive interview.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Satellite Beach resident and retired U.S. Navy Captain Gina Harden, 61, achieved her childhood dream of swimming the English Channel in July 2021, and on June 15, Harden conquered the second leg of the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming – the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim – which is known as “20 Bridges” and is a 29-mile circumnavigation swim around Manhattan Island in New York City.
Later this year, Harden will attempt to swim the final leg of the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming when she takes on the Catalina Channel, which is between the California mainland and Catalina Island.
When Harden accomplishes all three swims, she will have achieved what only 265 swimmers in the world have achieved.
During her 29-mile swim around Manhattan, Harden was joined in the water by her good friend Melanie Tyrrell. There was a safety boat and a kayaker in between Harden and Tyrrell during the marathon swim and the water temperature was near 70 degrees, which according to Harden made it “very comfortable.”
During the swim, Harden saw the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty and all that New York City has to offer.
Spectacular Military Career
When she was a ten-year-old girl standing with her father and sister looking out over the English Channel, Harden turned to her dad and said, “One day I am going to swim to the other side.”
Harden, a resident of Satellite Beach for the past five years, retired from the U.S. Navy with the rank of Captain – and her 35-year military career was nothing short of spectacular.
In 1982, she became only the seventh female diver in U.S. Navy history and at one time she was Officer in Charge of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Forward Headquarters in Afghanistan. In the latter stages of her military career, she was mobilized as Chief of Operations for the Joint Operations Center at COMUSCENTCOM.
Her personal awards include the Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Navy Commendation Medal (two awards), and the Navy Achievement Medal (two awards).
Years of Grueling Training
Harden said it has taken several of hard training to prepare for the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming and the has strict guidelines that she had to follow in each event, which includes staying in the water the entire time, not being able to touch anyone, or not being able to touch the boat that will be trailing her.
“All I was allowed to have was a swim cap, bathing suit, earplugs and goggles,” said Harden
Swimming the English Channel, the the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim and Catalina Channel has been a life-long dream for me,” said Harden. “It has been a long time getting here, and I am really thankful for the opportunity to do it.”
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