Today the closest we have to the one mile swim is the 1500 meter. If you're like me, you might have been caught up with this past year's Olympics when Michael Phelps captured our attention in all his achievements.
But did you know that before the current records were recorded 1896 to 2008 there was a man named Charles F. Senk and in New York City on Sept. 1, 1878 he swam one mile at a speed of 12:42.25. Yup, that's faster than the current record holder Grant Hackett 1500 meter in 14:34.56 which is approximately 109 meters less than a mile.
This information is in Houghtalings Handbook of Useful Information as well as on page 67 of The New York Clipper 1890 Annual. This book can be found at the Columbia University Libraries E-Book section. Here's the LINK In this source it states that he swam this mile in the East River. What I don't know is if he was going downstream or upstream. My guess would be downstream with the current.