"Perfect" wind, water and air conditions -- along with the 24 hours of swimming he does each week -- helped 16-year-old Morgan Wolfe capture the record for the 5.6-mile Maggie Fischer Memorial Great South Bay Cross Bay Swim.
It also was the encouraging words of Morgan's dad, Steven Wolfe, 47, who rode alongside his son in a kayak during Friday's race, pushing his son not only to finish his first course -- but to take first place and shatter the record.
"I remember him saying at one point when we were very close to the finish line, he said, 'You're on the record pace! Pick it up! Let's go!' and he had a huge smile on his face," Morgan Wolfe said.
Tod Brown held the record for the swim -- which began in 1927 -- since 1976, when he crossed the bay in 1:45:25, according to statistics on the race's website. Wolfe finished in 1:43:16.86.
Nearly 100 swimmers took their marks at 7 a.m., rushing into the Great South Bay during low tide from the docks near the lighthouse in Saltaire. They made their way around Sexton Island and toward the finish line at Gilbert Park in the Village of Brightwaters.
"This is not a straight line swim. All sorts of things get in the way," said Bob Fischer, director of the race, which was renamed to honor his daughter Maggie, who died in a car accident at age 17 in 1999. "There's some real talent in this. For Morgan to have done this in his initial try is really remarkable."
Maggie Fischer, born and raised in Brightwaters, summered on Fire Island, where she was a lifeguard. The race requires each entrant to raise $500, which is donated to St. Anthony's High School, in South Huntington where Maggie attended, as well as the Hospice Care Network.
Wolfe, who lives on the upper East Side of Manhattan and spends summers in Saltaire, where he lifeguards, swims on both the AGUA swim club's national team in Manhattan and at the Riverdale Country School, where he's entering 11th grade. He said he practices twice a day in two-hour intervals, six days a week.
But winning the race Friday wasn't on his mind, at least not initially, he said.
"When I was through the first half of the race is when I saw that I was toward the front of the pack," Morgan said. "My mentality changed a bit. It went from, 'I could complete this swim,' to, 'Wow. I may be able to win this.' "