December 7, 2023

Yan Fu deserves a number of the credit score for the marathon sea swimmer Leslie Abigail Hamilton’s groundbreaking lap round Staten Island this summer time.

Mr. Fu didn’t soar in for the 14-and-a-half hour, 37-mile swim in July that earned Ms. Hamilton the excellence of being the first woman to officially complete the route. His position, as a substitute, was to prep the carb powder drinks she gulped down at common 30-minute intervals and cheer her on from an escort boat.

Nonetheless, “I couldn’t have performed it with out him,” Ms. Hamilton stated. That applies to each main swim she’s undertaken since they fell in love in 2018, whereas competing in opposition to one another on glow-in-the-dark dodgeball groups in Manhattan.

Ms. Hamilton, 31, is an accountant and the controller at Garrison Funding Group, a Manhattan non-public fairness fund. Mr. Fu, 35, is a civil rights and employment lawyer who runs his personal observe, the Fu Agency, in Manhattan. Each had been sporting neon uniforms, per their dodgeball league’s costume code, in September 2017 once they first met on the courts of P.S. 183, a New York Metropolis public faculty on the Higher East Facet.

Even so, neither stood out to the opposite straight away. At O’Flanagan’s, a bar they frequented with their separate groups after competitions, “I don’t bear in mind assembly him, and he doesn’t bear in mind assembly me, both,” Ms. Hamilton stated.

She had joined to make mates in New York, the place she had moved lower than a yr earlier. That wasn’t onerous. “I immediately linked with this group of individuals,” she stated. A reference to Mr. Fu that amounted to greater than group makes an attempt to pelt one another with a ball would take some time.

Ms. Hamilton spent her childhood in Charlotte, N.C., along with her mother and father, Douglas and Linda Hamilton, and youthful brother, Bradford; all three nonetheless dwell there. Discovering a sport that suited her was a course of. “I used to be the child who was at all times picked final in gymnasium class,” she stated.

Ultimately, she tried swimming. At her first observe, intimidated and outnumbered by swimmers who had been at it since preschool, she cried her manner by the warm-up. Then, “I fell in love with it,” she stated. “It gave me a giant sense of function.”

She swam her manner onto the division three workforce at Centre Faculty in Danville, Ky., and lifeguarded again in Charlotte to economize for a separate ardour: finding out overseas. By the point she graduated with a bachelor’s diploma in worldwide relations and historical past in 2015, she had spent phrases in Uganda and Thailand.

“I used to be very go-go-go,” she stated, together with within the planning of her profession. In 2016, she earned a grasp’s diploma in accounting from the College of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The identical yr, a job provide from the agency PwC introduced her to the Higher East Facet of Manhattan, however 70- to 80-hour workweeks in the course of the busy season made carving out time for swimming unattainable. For nearly two years she stayed out of the pool.

She traces the beginning of her marathon open-water swims to the identical month she met Mr. Fu, September 2017, when she and a university buddy, Dana Reynolds, swam a Hudson River 10K from Yonkers to the George Washington Bridge. “It was a gateway swim for me,” she stated. Ms. Reynolds obtained an instantaneous case of the creeps from the murky water, Ms. Hamilton stated. However for her it was completely different. “A part of me was considering, I might completely do extra of this. I used to be having fun with it.”

That fall, Mr. Fu was beginning to really feel the identical manner about his post-dodgeball conversations with Ms. Hamilton at O’Flanagan’s, which has since closed. Born in Xiamen, in Southeast China, he moved to the U.S. along with his mother and father, Zhidong Fu and Wenxiu Huang, when he was 5 so his father might research chemistry as a graduate pupil.

The household grew with the addition of his youthful brother, Andrew Lei Fu, in Washington, D.C., earlier than the Fu household settled completely in Plainsboro, N.J. (Mr. Fu’s mother and father, who each ultimately earned graduate levels in pc science and labored in that area, now dwell in Alpharetta, Ga.). At George Washington College, Mr. Fu double-majored in economics and political science, graduating in 2010 with a bachelor’s diploma.

Three years later, he earned his J.D. diploma from Columbia. Civil rights legislation was a ardour along with a profession path. He serves on the board of the Sonya and Celina Sotomayor Judicial Internship Program, a nonprofit that matches college students from underrepresented backgrounds with judicial internships.

Glow-in-the-dark dodgeball, additionally referred to as black gentle dodgeball, held the identical attraction for Mr. Fu because it did for Ms. Hamilton: It was a enjoyable, straightforward approach to be social in New York Metropolis. When he came upon the workforce he joined in 2016 met for postgame karaoke, it turned much more interesting.

“I can’t carry a tune rather well, however doing karaoke to rap songs” — hits by Eminem, Jay-Z and 50 Cent prime his repertoire — “is one factor I’m fairly good at,” he stated. (dodgeball buddies are inclined to agree. “Yan is a track slayer and mic grasp who kills it each time,” stated Tristan White, a buddy and former teammate. The league paused for Covid in March 2020; play has not since resumed.)

Ms. Hamilton and Mr. Fu had been each on relationship apps, however unenthusiastically, when, within the early months of 2018, she started to note he was paying extra consideration to her than his different feminine teammates. However “it was a type of issues the place it was like, I’m going to attend for him to make a transfer as a result of I wasn’t certain,” she stated. Round Valentine’s Day, she thought he was going to kiss her. “However he chickened out.” That was disappointing.

By mid-February Mr. Fu, who lived in East Harlem, had summoned the braveness to ask Ms. Hamilton, who lived in Hell’s Kitchen, if she’d wish to exit with him someday. She stated sure. On Feb. 24, 2018, they went for a bacon tasting on the now-closed Bar Bacon. There, “the dialog was just a little extra formal,” Mr. Fu stated, that means they saved dodgeball discuss to a minimal in favor of deeper topics.

Each left considering the celebs had aligned for love. Nonetheless, “once more he chickened out to kiss me,” she stated. This time, he had good motive. “I appreciated her a lot I didn’t need to mess it up,” he stated.

On their second date, a couple of days later, he was prepared. After 1 a.m. sizzling canines at Rudy’s in Hell’s Kitchen, he pulled a Chapstick out of his pocket. “I believed, this time he’s going to do it,” Ms. Hamilton stated. She was proper.

By spring, they had been a pair. By the next yr, Ms. Hamilton was planning extra sophisticated and difficult swims, and Mr. Fu was studying the right way to be her chief supporter. They moved to a brand new Higher West Facet condo collectively in June 2019, shortly after her first official long-distance swim, a 13-mile trek down the Hudson River.

Focus, Ms. Hamilton stated, is vital within the water. Run-ins with sharks and stinging sea lice haven’t deterred her. She admits to having bother concentrating, however totally on land, when she began to fall in love with Mr. Fu.

Now, from his frequent place within the escort boat, he’s a chilled affect. “In the identical manner I recognize the surroundings just like the ocean waves round me, or the glow of the Verrazano Bridge, or the apocalyptic-looking industrial tankers within the Arthur Kill, I recognize and really feel safe understanding I’ve him on the journey with me,” she stated.

On Feb. 12, 2022, they dedicated to a lifetime of additional adventures as a pair when Mr. Fu proposed with a diamond engagement ring at Karaoke Duet 53 in Hell’s Kitchen.

On Aug. 5, Ms. Hamilton and Mr. Fu had been married at SouthPark Church in Charlotte by Kyle Thompson, the senior pastor, with simply their mother and father and brothers watching. On Sept. 23, they invited 150 family and friends members for a second ceremony led by Mr. White on the Grandview in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. The couple selected the venue for its views of the Hudson River, extra acquainted to each at water stage.

Ms. Hamilton, in a floor-length marriage ceremony robe designed by Tony Ward, walked down an out of doors aisle along with her father to a trellis strung with fall flowers; visitors had been given ponchos to remain dry as gentle rain fell from lingering tropical storm Ophelia. Mr. Fu met her in a black Calvin Klein tuxedo and gold bow tie. Dodgeball teammates dominated a 16-member marriage ceremony get together.

In handwritten vows, Mr. Fu instructed Ms. Hamilton he had recognized for years she could be his life associate. “I knew in the course of the numerous kilometers, coldest waters and double observe days,” he stated. Ms. Hamilton, in her vows, stated Mr. Fu has all of the qualities she needs in a husband, and lots of she didn’t notice she wanted. “I promise to at all times assist you in your passions and pursuits, and by no means take as a right your fixed assist of mine,” she stated.

Mr. White closed the ceremony by asking each in the event that they promised to “duck, dive, dip and dodge” for the remainder of their lives, a reference to the 2004 film “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.” When each stated they did, bridesmaids pumped their bouquets, groomsmen whistled and cheers rang out for the beginning of the couple’s new marathon journey, sealed with a kiss.


When Sept. 23, 2023

The place The Grandview, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Dance Ground Dodging At a cocktail hour and reception beneath an out of doors tent on the Grandview, Ms. Hamilton and Mr. Fu stunned their visitors with a record-scratch second throughout their first dance, to Ed Sheeran’s “Perfect.” A minute in, the track was changed by Smash Mouth’s model of “I’m a Believer.” Either side of the marriage get together rushed to the dance flooring to play a spherical of dodgeball; Mr. Fu was the final participant standing.

Fall Flavors Cocktail hour nibbles included a Thanksgiving panini made with turkey, Brie and cranberry dressing and butternut squash soup. Later, the couple lower a marriage cake embellished with mini dodgeballs product of maraschino cherries.

Binge more Vows columns here and read all our wedding, relationship and divorce coverage here.

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