NORTH ANDOVER — Like other young athletes, Paige Christie likes a challenge.

But, in Christie’s case, it apparently has to be a monumental challenge.

Two years ago, the 23-year-old Smith College and Austin Prep graduate from North Andover became the first person from the region to swim across the English Channel, completing the treacherous 21 miles in an excellent time of 12:55.

That was a great accomplishment, something that fewer have done than hikers reaching the summit of Mount Everest.

But now, Christie has another challenge, which she’ll tackle next week (June 26-July 3) and, in many ways, is even more difficult. She will be attempting to swim the lower 120 miles of the Hudson River at the sixth annual NYOW 8 Bridges Hudson River swim.

Held on seven consecutive days, with an average distance of 17.2 miles between bridges, it is the longest marathon swim in the world.

How difficult is the Hudson River challenge? Only four people in the world have swum all seven stages consecutively (10 overall have done it but the others had to re-do a stage or two) and, if Christie completes the 120 miles, she would be the youngest ever in the world to do so.

Following her crossing of the English Channel, Christie took a year off to finish her studies at Smith and then recharge and plan her next challenge while also applying to Law School, which she’ll attend (which one is not clear yet) next year.

While “off” and decompressing, she spent several months on a fellowship at the Hastings Center, near West Point, overlooking the Hudson. That’s when she decided to try the Hudson swim, which appeals for reasons other than its difficulty.

“The Hudson River has played a fundamental role in the rich history of our nation and during the swim I will be passing sights such as West Point, Manhattan Island and the Statue of Liberty. And the 8 Bridges Swim is meant to promote health and the enjoyment of the Hudson River.”

Christie cites four differences between the English Channel swim and  the Hudson River swim — the distance, the water (mainly fresh), the start and finish are on specific dates and there will be other swimmers in the water, each with an individual kayaker watching over.

Although some of her training is similar to two years ago, a lot is different.

“I have had to focus not only on back-to-back swims but I have been concentrating on recovery, which will be really important,” said Christie. “I’ll do two consecutive days of hard training, swimming four to six hours (about 16 hours a week) and then I’ll take a day off.”

Christie isn’t really resting when she’s not swimming, which she does at Stiles Pond, often with brother Cam nearby in a kayak, or indoors with her former coach, Mike Spring, and Crimson Aquatics (”I attribute my mental toughness to him and his program,” she says). There is yoga, weight lifting, meditation and trips to physical therapist Andy Cannon, of whom Christie gives substantial credit for keeping her injury free.

Money spent on training and the fees involved with a marathon swim can add up but, in contrast to two years ago, Christie is now a sponsored U.S. marathon swimmer. She currently has four sponsors who ease the burden of entry fees, nutritious food and drink and swim gear.

Regardless of all the physical training, Christie believes that the mental aspect of a marathon swim of this magnitude is just as important.

“You have to stay positive every day and be grateful for the journey,” she said. “I look at this as a great opportunity and I want to do everything I can to make it happen.”


Marathon swim training

Paige Christie is trying to cover all her bases as she trains for the Hudson River Swim June 26-July 3 all the while working as a nanny, volunteering and preparing for law school. Below are two typical days for Christie.


5:45 a.m. — Spend 45 minutes with spinal loosening, rolling, stretching

6:30-7:30 a.m. — Breakfast, catch up with emails and check in with marathon swimmers she’s mentoring

7:45-8:30 a.m. — Nanny, drive to school

9-11 a.m. — Weight session/body suspension training

Noon — Lunch

1-2 p.m. — Meditation/visualization, 8 Bridges Research

2:30-4 p.m. — Pick up mother at work, nannying school pickup

6:45-9 p.m. — Crimson Aquatics practice

10 p.m. — Stretch, roll, etc.

10:30 p.m. — Bed


5:45 a.m. — Spend 45 minutes with spinal loosening, rolling, stretching

6:30-7:30 — Breakfast, catch up with emails, manage social media

7:45-8:30 — Nanny, drive to school

9 a.m.-noon — Stiles Pond swim

12:30 p.m. — Core work, stretching

1:30 p.m. — Lunch

2-3 p.m. — Teach swim lessons

3-6:15 p.m. — Nannying

6:45-9 p.m. — Crimson Aquatics practice

10 p.m. — Stretch, roll, etc.

10:30 p.m. — Bed

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