|(obviously not my picture...)|
I was searching for some academic evidence to back me up, when I found this article: turns out some tagged white sharks have been picked up on acoustic sensors under the Golden Gate Bridge. Hmm. Still, not particularly concerning as let's face it, we just don't hear about a lot of shark attacks on humans. Globally. It was riskier to drive a car to the airport for the trip!
Tim & I arrived at Aquatic Park the morning of the swim, and met the rest of our group. Amanda, Rachel and Jenn (from my town), Liz (from Tim's) and a couple of other friends of Liz (from SF I believe). Once in our wetsuits, we walked over to the ferry taking us out to the island and boarded. It was a fairly surreal ferry trip with hundreds of wetsuit-clad swimmers (and a few sans-wetsuit) and that's it. We had to jump off the boat, and I'd built this up in my mind thinking it would be scary to jump into the black, cold water. But it wasn't, it was actually pretty fun!
|Cowichan Valley girls getting ready to swim!|
|I stole this picture from the results email from|
the race organization because it looks so cool!
Once in the water, we had to find the start line and it was a bit chaotic as swells made it really difficult to see the line of kayaks off the SE tip of the island. There were some good swells and surface chop, but otherwise the water was greener and colder than I expected. Once at the start line, we waited for a few minutes for the horn to signal the race start, then we were off.
The start was a total gong show. People everywhere, smashing into everyone. The swells and chop didn't help as it was just kind of a washing machine. Also, the fact that the majority were strong swimmers meant it didn't spread out very quickly. After about ten minutes of getting pummeled, I decided to go a bit to the left in some open water and swim on my own. That was much less frustrating, I got into a rhythm and soon enough the swells disappeared. It was too foggy to see the Golden Gate Bridge, but it was cool seeing the city get closer and closer, and I turned over a couple of times to see Alcatraz receding into the distance. To avoid getting slammed I ended up swimming quite a bit on my own, but that was ok even though I usually try to work in a group. Soon enough, I was rounding the corner past the breakwater into Aquatic Park. The breakwater looked closer from shore, but turned out there was still about 600 meters left to swim (so much for my idea to sprint from there).
There were heaps of spectators lining the beach, and when I hit the shore and saw the clock, I was pretty surprised to see just over 38 minutes. Thank you nature for the push! I figured I'd be 41-42 minutes and I wasn't working particularly hard so I knew there was a current going with us. Turns out everyone in our group was faster than they anticipated, and the woman who won last year repeated this year, and 2 minutes faster. So there you go. Everyone in our group placed really well in our age groups: Amanda 2nd (and under 30 minutes!), Jenn 2nd, Liz 2nd, Rachel 6th, Tim 7th and me 8th. Islanders represent!
|Islanders (minus Liz) post-race celebration!|
Overall it wasn't nearly as hard as I'd thought it would be. Not that cold, not dark, no dorsal fins in sight, no fighting a current... I've done harder swims, but nothing as iconic. So now I can say I've swam from Alcatraz. One and done.