Brighton Beach swimmers mark one-year anniversary of journalist’s wrongful imprisonment

swimmers at swim for journalist Evan Gershkovitch
Swimmers marked the one-year anniversary of journalist Evan Gershkovich’s imprisonment with a Brighton Beach plunge.
Photo by Erica Price

Friends, family and supporters of Evan Gershkovich — the journalist detained in Russia last March — gathered together to mark the one-year anniversary of his wrongful imprisonment with an event in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach and at a beach of the same name overseas.

The event, called “Swim for Evan,” was held on March 23 with Gershkovich’s colleagues from the Wall Street Journal and friends taking a plunge in the icy water in his honor.

Swimmers mark one year anniversary of journalist's imprisonment with Brighton Beach plunge.
Gershkovich’s colleagues and loved ones plunged into the city water. Photo by Erica Price

Gershkovich was arrested while reporting in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg, accused by Russia’s Federal Security Service of espionage. Despite Gershkovich, his employer and the United States government all fervently denying he is a spy, Russia on Tuesday announced it had extended the reporter’s detention to June 30 of this year on what advocates say are entirely baseless charges.

“This verdict to further prolong Evan’s detention feels particularly painful, as this week marks one year since Evan was arrested and wrongfully detained in Ekaterinburg simply for doing his job as a journalist,” Lynne Tracy, U.S. ambassador to Russia, said on Tuesday. “Evan’s case is not about evidence, due process, or rule of law. It is about using American citizens as pawns to achieve political ends, as the Kremlin is also doing in the case of Paul Whelan.”

Swimmers mark one year anniversary of journalist's imprisonment with Brighton Beach plunge.
The journalist’s loved ones advocated for his safe release. Photo by Erica Price

On Brighton Beach on Saturday, Gershkovich’s supporters braved the cold weather to advocate for their friend. 

“Did my first ‘polar plunge’ off Brighton Beach today in the worst weather possible!” Gershkovich’s colleague and Wall Street Journal publishing editor Ginnie Teo posted on Facebook. “Rain, mist, [a] real feel of [30 degrees Fahrenheit], it was freezing! WSJ colleagues and friends of reporter Evan Gershkovich took the plunge with a Swim for Evan event to mark the one-year anniversary of Evan’s detention in Russia.”

Coney Island Brighton Beach Open Water Swimmers (CIBBOWS) also attended the plunge, and participated in a long-distance swim in honor of Gerschkovich afterward.

“WSJ colleagues and friends of Evan will be taking part at Brighton Beaches around the world as the one-year anniversary of Evan’s detention in Russia nears,” a CIBBOWs Facebook post read prior to the event. “The Brighton location was chosen because Evan’s family has roots in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, and because of his fondness for Brighton Beach in England.”

brighton beach journalist plunge
Brighton Beach was chosen because of Gershkovich’s connection to the nabe.Photo by Erica Price

Among Gershkovich’s supporters was fellow journalist and Washington CNN correspondent Jake Tapper, who also took the plunge.

“WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich was detained by the FSB March 29, 2023. 360 DAYS AGO,” Tapper wrote on Facebook. “In honor of Evan’s love of swimming at Brighton Beach, journalists are swimming at 10 Brighton beaches around the world today. FREE EVAN NOW!”