Hungry swimmers brave 10-mile journey from Coney Island to Red Hook for annual Key Lime Pie Swim

swimmers exit water after key lime pie swim
Four long-distance swimmers braved the waters of the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday for the annual Key Lime Pie Swim.
Photo by Erica Price

Four swimmers from the Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers braved the waters of the Atlantic Ocean for the annual “Key Lime Pie Swim” on July 29, paddling all the way from Coney Island to Red Hook, all for a bite of Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie.

Since July of 2020, CIBBOWS founder Capri Djatiasmoro has organized the 10-mile swim to Steve’s as part of her “foodie swim” program, which sees long-distance open-water swimmers plunge into the sea to traverse to local food destinations.

Djatiasmoro plans the swims by finding eateries she’d like to try or has seen on social media before taking a look at currents to determine the safest routes to swim, and then works with the NYPD Harbor Unit and the Coast Guard to ensure swimmers can navigate the routes with support from following safety boats

Swimmers hug after completing annual Key Lime Pie swim
Just four strong swimmers are selected for the journey each year. Photo by Erica Price

“A friend of mine on Facebook, he posted this barbecue and I said ‘Oh my god, that looks delicious, where is it?’” Djatiasmoro told Brooklyn Paper “And he said ‘Oh that’s Juicy Lucy’s in Staten Island.’ So of course, being the nut job I am, I immediately look it up and it’s right across from Coney Island. I said ‘Oh my god we can swim there!’”

The idea proved popular, and Djatiasmoro now plans several long distance “foodie swims” each year for members CIBBOWS. 

“It’s okay to train and all that stuff, but you gotta have fun too,” Djatiasmoro said. “We do shorter swims, we swim from Brighton four [pier] to up to the Wonder Wheel, Paul’s Daughter and we get out, under a mile swim. It’s a lobster roll swim. It’s nice to swim for your food.”

Due to the long distance, Djatiasmoro and CIBBOWS only let four swimmers participate in the 10-mile Key Lime Pie swim each year. Participants are trailed by boats from the Coast Guard and are provided food and water every 30 minutes during the swim to ensure safety.

Swimmers for this year’s event included Marin Grigorow, Marianne Hoff, Susan Kirk and Janine Serell.

boat supervising swimmers on key lime pie swim
Swimmers are accompanied by a boat that provides food and water as they make their way from Coney Island to Red Hook.Photo by Erica Price

“I do like to know your background,” said Djatiasmoro, of how she determines who qualifies for the swim. “What’s the longest distance you’ve swam? And for distance you really need to practice feeding and drinking in the water because we feed the swimmers every 30 minutes. The feed is attached to a bottle which is attached to a 50 foot rope and we throw it to them in the water.”

Another challenge for participants is to get used to swimming in open water with the help of CIBBOWS training programs.

“We help swimmers transition from the pool to the ocean because the pool and the ocean are so completely different,” Djatiasmoro said. “We have different programs, we have a whole gradation of swim distances starting with the intro clinic.”

The Key Lime Pie swim, like many of the CIBBOWS long-distance swims, also relies on ocean currents to help propel swimmers so they can conserve energy and maintain their stamina. 

Southern Brooklyn long-distance swim group hosts annual Key Lime Pie swim
The exhausted swimmers celebrated with a slice of Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie.Photo by Erica Price

Djatiasmoro checks the currents through an app to plan routes and avoid shipping channels, and said that the swims allow participants to not only get a great workout in, but to visit places they may not have been to before and to in general have a good time.

“My prime directives in life start with love, because I love it [swimming] so much and I hope everyone learns to love the ocean as much as I do and loves safely,” said Djatiasmoro.