Emergency Service Unit Detectives Darren McNamara and Henry Medina arrived around 4:30 p.m. to find people on shore pointing to the 59-year-old woman, who was floating in the water off near West 131st Street, Medina recalled later in a telephone interview.
The formerly industrial area is now a riverfront park with recreational piers.
The detectives leaped about 7 feet down into the water, and McNamara swam about 30 feet to the woman. She was conscious but in distress, McNamara said.
Meanwhile, Medina tossed them a life ring. The woman held onto it as McNamara guided her to the sea wall, where Sgt. Raymond Smith and Detective Anthony Selvaggi had hopped over a railing to lower a ladder to the water, the officers recalled.
"We all pulled her up the ladder," Selvaggi said.
She was taken to Harlem Hospital, where she was in stable condition Saturday evening.
While the Emergency Services Unit is equipped with wet suits and other water equipment, the officers didn't pause to don any of it before going into the river, which the U.S. Geological Service data pegged at about 70 degrees.
To the detectives, conditions were mild compared to another recent water rescue in which they were involved - in January.
"That water was cold," McNamara said. "This was nothing."
Some bystanders approached the rescuers with kudos afterward.
"Which was nice, because you don't get that too often," Smith said.
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