Cold water training trip (Part 3) – Alcatraz Swim

Today it was finally time to escape from Alcatraz! This swim has been on my bucket list, so I was very excited to finally get the opportunity to try it. My mom and I arrived at Aquatic Park early this morning to check in and get my race number and cap. After that, it was time for the one thing all open water swims seem to have in common: the long wait to actually swim. We received a race briefing complete with corny jokes, but lacking sufficient information about the currents and conditions. We were told to aim for a large military ship so that the current would, in theory, carry us around to the entrance to Aquatic Park.

before swim.JPG

Looking out at the water before the swim.

After the briefing, we all walked down to Pier 41 to board the ferries out to the island and start the swim. I was surprised that most of the race participants were wearing wetsuits, while only a few were wearing just swimsuits, like me.


We stopped at the island and were told to jump one after another when the horn sounded so we lined up and I plunged into the cold water. It wasn’t as cold as I expected it to be and I swam over to the starting line made by kayaks. We waited in the water for everyone to get off the boats and they sounded a second hown signalling the start of the race.

I began to sprint toward the lead boat, doing my best to avoid getting kicked in the face or swimming over too many people. The field began to thin out and I continued to head along the course, while trying to find my pace in the bumpy water. I swam toward the military ship and before I knew it, I was getting close to the sea wall and the entry to Aquatic Park. To my dismay, I was too far left of the opening since I was hoping to catch a current to carry me right.


Running into the finish

As a result, I ended up swimming along the seawall and into the opening, rather than straight into Aquatic Park. I sprinted into Aquatic Park and sighted the finish chute to keep my line straight. Swimming into the finish, I ran up the beach and through the chute to finish the race!

This race was a lot of run and I really enjoyed racing again and also trying to maintain speed. I am also glad that I swam in the bay a few times this weekend, so that during this race the water didn’t really feel cold at all. I am so grateful to my mom for helping make this weekend possible and also for my former teammate Meri for coming to cheer me on! I am thoroughly enjoying all the training steps to achieving my English Channel goal.

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