June 01, 2006

First Alcatraz Swim

Last night I got a call from my tri coach saying that, at the last minute, two people had bailed out of an Alcatraz swim clinic scheduled for this morning-- would we want to go? So Tammy and I both signed up for the 6:15am swim this morning.

What can I say? It was amazing. After a brief discussion of the currents and landmarks to sight in the bay, we were off in a zodiak with four experienced guide swimmers. A couple minutes later, we plopped in the water next to Alcatraz and started swimming toward Aquatic Park.

The currents are intense. One minute you're sighting on/aiming your body toward Aquatic Park (the tall apartment buildings behind it, actually), and the next minute you find yourself looking straight at the Fort Mason piers. Then you blink and suddenly the SF Yacht Club is directly in front of you. The tide charts listed the current at about 3.8 knots ebb, which is about as fast as it gets out there, and you could definitely feel it.

As we got closer to shore near Crissy Field, we hit a reverse current and had to fight for about fifteen minutes to get from the the outer buoys/pylons to the beach. It's amazing how, within a few yards, the current completely flipped.

Afterwards, the experienced swimmers were telling us that those were some of the strongest currents they'd ever experienced, and one guy had done something like 400 Alcatraz swims. So our Alcatraz Challenge race in July should be easy by comparison! Posted by todd at June 1, 2006 09:10 AM