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Open Water Swimmers swim 10 miles from Coney Island to Red Hook — all for key lime pie

NY: A 10 mile open water swim from the Coney Island Pier to Red Hook dubbed the Key Lime Pie Swim.  Taken on July 10, 2022, in Brooklyn, New York . (Photo by Erica Price)
The Open Water Swimmers’ journey from Coney Island to Red Hook on July 10 went through New York Harbor.
Photo by Erica Price

Four foodies embarked on a 10-mile swim from Coney Island to Red Hook on July 10 — all for a slice of Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie.

The “foodie swim” is the brainchild of Capri Djatiasmoro, one of the founders of Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers — a southern Brooklyn-based swim group founded in 2005. Djatiasmoro came up with the foodie swims as a fun way for members to try some of the borough’s most renowned treats, all while getting in a not-too-shabby workout in the open waters around Brooklyn.

“I always like to plan the swims so we end in food and booze,” she said. 

The “Key Lime Pie Swim” is one of the organization’s longest-distance group swims, totaling 10 miles from the Coney Island Pier to Steve’s on Van Dyke Street. But, like the group’s other excursions, it uses the tides to give swimmers an extra push in the right direction. 

 

Swimmers started their trip for key lime pie at Coney Island Pier.Photo by Erica Price

On round-trip swims, such as the lobster roll swim and the upcoming swim to Manhattan Beach, the swimmers will wait a couple minutes to catch the tides that give them an extra push in the right direction back to where they started. 

“Then we wait a couple of minutes for the tide to switch, and then we get a ride back with the current,” said Djatiasmoro. “And everyone loved it because it’s not a race it’s very relaxed and it’s just wonderful, you just take your time.” 

It’s fairly easy to launch a new route, Djatiasmoro said, as she only has to check the tides and currents for a weekend day that would complement their treks. With that in mind, the Open Water Swimmers are almost always looking for new destinations — and new foods to try.

“I told people, I said, ‘Listen, any ideas — let me know,” she said, “and I check the tide and the currents and that’s it. I say, ‘Okay, let’s go.'” 

This past weekend’s swim for pie was suggested by a member in 2020 — and was the Open Water Swimmers’ third. It also inspired a similar swim, starting on Governor’s Island and heading to Staten Island’s Juicy Lucy BBQ. 

The four swimmers making their way through Gravesend Bay.Photo by Erica Price

The foodie tours create a more relaxed atmosphere than the organization’s races, Djatiasmoro said, because members swim in a group and take breaks. The relaxed pace also allows participants to sightsee.

“We stay together and keep an eye on each other,” Djatiasmoro said, adding that she will often hang back with the group’s slowest swimmer, just to make sure everyone is okay.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said third-time Key lime Pie swimmer Julian Flear. “You are stopping every half an hour to hydrate so you’re in the middle of the harbor and you’re just sitting around there sightseeing and then swim a bit more and then sightsee some more.”

And, Flear said, the food isn’t a bad way to mark the halfway point.

“The food and dessert is definitely a motivating factor,” he said. “As you’re swimming along there you are going, ‘I am going to get a key lime pie, I am going to get a key lime pie, I am going to get a key lime pie.’” 

From left to right: Paul Van Horn, Julian Flear, Karen Poleshuck, Nicholas Burnham and Capri Djatiasmoro.Photo by Erica Price

Flear described the Key Lime Pie Swim as a two-for-one deal due to the differing sceneries you get throughout the trip, with the first half being mostly open water and the second half surrounded by cityscape on the way to Red Hook. 

“It’s almost like two swims in one because before you get to the Verazzano-Narrows Bridge from Coney Island, that’s just very much open waters — the only thing around you is ships and boats, which is fun,” he said, “and then once you pass the bridge you are in the harbor and sightseeing more.” 

The group’s next open water swim will be a two-mile round-trip from Coney Island to Manhattan Beach this coming weekend to get some fries (Djatiasmoro said the group has done it before, but the concession stand’s franks don’t always fare so well when you’re about swim another mile).

The swimmers end the first half of their journey in Red Hook for a slice of Steve’s Authentic Key Lime Pie.Photo by Erica Price

“I really don’t want to eat a hot dog and be gassy swimming,” she said, “so I said, well, what’s the safest thing? So we had fries.”

The group’s open water swims are open to the public, but participants must be established ocean swimmers, Djatiasmoro said — especially with alcohol involved— but the beloved key lime pie swims only allows for four participants because of its distance. 

“Safety is my top concern,” she said, “and then fun, food and booze.”

Update (June 13, 11:30 am): This story has been updated to correct the distance of the swim to a 10-mile swim one-way as well as the one-way distance for the Juicy Lucy BBQ in Staten Island. The article has also been corrected to further clarify that the Key Lime Pie Swim only allows four participants. 

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