“I swam from Alcatraz to the city.”
Other people have a different response: a contented smile and a knowing glint in the eye, like when you told your Classics-scholar uncle that you just read the Odyssey for the first time.
“Oh yeah? Awesome. Welcome to the club. How was it?”
Completing the ‘crossing’ from Alcatraz Island (of prison fame) to the San Francisco waterfront is something of a rite of passage in the open water swimming world around here. There are scores of races and organized swims that use the island as the ‘drop point,’ and even a few annual triathlons include it. The two rowing clubs at Aquatic Park host regular crossings.
The route is something like this:
Or, in my case, this:
As you’ll see in the video below, I could get turned around (literally) on my back in the choppy channel, but thanks to my incredible crew, I could focus mostly on just going.
Meet, from the left: Ryan, Kim, Simon, Kathy, Deb, Josh, and, of course, Mom (behind the camera).
Without the support of this group, I would not have been able to complete this channel-crossing. On my first swim at Aquatic Park, back in February, Simon and I got to ‘the opening’ of the breakwaters and I looked toward Alcatraz Island and asked how far it was.
“Not farther than a mile and a quarter,” Simon explained, and without a pause, he followed it with, “You’ll do that swim some day.”
I remember grinning pretty widely, without a doubt in my mind. “Let’s do it.”
But here’s the interesting part: there is no way I could have generated that much confidence entirely on my own.
It was the declaration that I could and would do it, by Simon – the Aussie who, after 18 hours of swimming in the harsh Pacific, nearly completed the 30 miles from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate, only to be chased out of the water by a nearby Great White.
It was the support of Kim – one of the most accomplished open water swimmers in the world – and Deb and Josh and so many others in the North Bay Aquatics and Aquatic Park families, who have all been so ready to help me problem-solve these endeavors.
And it was the confidence I felt in my own ability in the water, especially when surrounded by the positive energy of the Bay-swimming ‘ohana,’ that empowered me to undertake this.
It was just another reminder to me
of how the energy
of a team
can carry you through
to fantastic places.
Here’s the vlog: