My swim from Alcatraz Island
After I moved to San Francisco, I began swimming in the chilly ocean waters at Fort Funston, Ocean Beach and Stinson Beach in Marin County. The swim from Alcatraz caught my attention and became a personal achievement. The summer before the October swim I went to the ocean twice a week preparing my body for the cold Bay swim.
The Bay and ocean are actually quite different. Swimming in the ocean is quite difficult because of the rough waves; the Bay on the otherhand is often much more calm and the temperature is about 4-5 degrees warmer. The day of the swim the water was a toasty 58 degrees.
I invited all my friends and Patricia Roberts, a cinematographer, filmed the event and me on video. I was incredibly nervous. The excitement on the day of the swim was almost unbearable. All the swimmers boarded the ferry boat in Sausalito, about 100 of us. When we arrived near the Alcatraz shore we were instructed to jump. There was so much nervous laughter from everyone. And in we went.
I felt so small out there and periodically stopped and looked around marveling at where I was. This place, the event I had planned for; it was thrilling. The morning was glorious, sunny and calm water. The main problem I had was my goggles steamed up and I was afraid to take them off in case I couldn't get them back on (not sure why I thought this). So I could not see where I was going. The currents and waves made me disoriented and after awhile I was told by one of the safety boats that I was swimming the wrong direction - back to Alcatraz. And I did this more than once.
When I finally reached shore, stumbling to my feet, I was elated and jumped up and down yelling "I did it, I did it!"
return to resume