Johns Hopkins Gazette: August 21, 1995

Following Up!

     In the Aug. 10 issue of The Gazette, staff writer Mike Field
reported on Viki Altomonte's quest to swim the 28-mile Manhattan
Island Marathon. Here is a follow-up report on how she did:

     "I heard Jennifer say 'Swim like hell!' but she was pointing
in the wrong direction," says Altomonte of her near catastrophic
run-in with a luxury liner.

     With less than a third of the course remaining, a faulty
radio on board her companion boat put an exhausted Altomonte on a
collision course with the propeller of the giant ship, which was
backing out of its berth on the Hudson River. Altomonte was
unaware of the developing crisis until she was literally grabbed
from the jaws of death by her husband, Wayne.

     "They told me to swim toward shore, but I didn't understand
why, so I kept going," says Altomonte. "They told me to get in
the boat, but I refused." 

     With the ship less than 100 feet away, and the wake of the
propeller beginning to pull both Viki and her companion boat into
its path, Wayne grabbed his wife by the arm and pulled alongside
the boat.

     Race officials ruled the rescue a life-or-death emergency
and did not disqualify her from the event. She finished in 9
hours, 21 minutes and was taken to the hospital, where the
severely dehydrated swimmer received a liter of fluid before
being released.

     "I feel fine now," she says a week after the big event. "And
I may swim in this weekend's one mile open water race. But that's
it for marathons. I'm really glad I did it, but I won't try

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