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400 swimmers in Brooklyn Bridge river race.

July 31, 2011

Ethan Kahn, left, who lives in Chicago, swims ashore in the 6th annual Brooklyn Bridge Swim race in Manhattan, NY July 30, 2011.

Some 400 swimmers braved sewage-tainted waters yesterday to race across the icky East River from Brooklyn to Manhattan.Donning pink swim caps, participants in the sixth-annual Brooklyn Bridge Swim crawled and dog-paddled through the murky channel, not quite knowing what was running across their body.

“I had two moments when I felt something that wasn’t water, but I don’t want to know what it was,” said Alice Gallagher, 53, of Greenwich Village, as she climbed out of the river at South Street Seaport. “It could’ve been a plastic bag, it could be …seaweed, but you don’t ask. You just swim.”

Most contestants, among them Ethan Kahn (photo, r.) crossed the stretch – more than the length of 10 football fields – in about 15 minutes.They also prayed they didn’t acquire any rashes or rare diseases. The city declared parts of the East River unfit for swimming last week after raw sewage spilled out of a Harlem treatment plant.

“My secret is that after I swim, I do a shot of tequila to clean out my system,” said Ellen Weinberg, 50, of Chelsea. “That’s why I don’t get sick.”

Contest founder, Morty Berger, insisted the river is safe, noting city officials tested the water before the race. “It’s hard for people to believe, but it’s clean,” said Burger. Izabela Rutkowski and Jake Pearson.

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