What a beautiful morning I’ve had! I swam with Pedro Ordenes’ Water World Swim from Alcatraz to Angel Island.
I had a late night last night; my seminar students came en masse for dinner and a movie and, I hope, a great time was had by all. A lot of prep went into the event; I cooked for more than three hours, and there was much chair-hauling and setup stuff. My back, which flared up this week as a result of a truly tragicomic, Buster Keatonesque fall off my office chair, gave me so much grief, that at the end of the evening, even though it was delightful, I felt like crying. And of course, I started thinking negatively about racing the following morning, and decided I would make up my mind the following morning.
I woke up just in time to put on some clothes and rush out the door with my swim bag, and I’m so glad I did. We had absolutely marvelous conditions. The bay was at an unprecedented 67 degrees, the water was glassy, and everyone was in great spirits, including my friends John and Sarah. We were the only ones, save for one of the coaches, who swam in skins. I expected more people sans neoprene, given the high temps. But to each their own.
The boat ride to Alcatraz was gorgeous. The sky was gray, but visibility was not too bad. Pedro asked us to aim at the west side of the island, explaining that the current would carry us east, and asking us to aim at the finish line–a beach on the east of the island–only when we got very close to shore. I took his words literally and set on a very conservative course aiming at the very end of the island’s west corner. An occasional wave would impede my sight, but for the most part I was able to stay on course, with the Beatles’ Get Back humming in my head in infinite loop.
After a while, a kind SUP surfer in a kilt instructed me to aim at the middle of the island, and later, to aim at the end point. I am delighted that he talked to me, because my idea of how the swim would turn out (I would aim west and then, suddenly, swept with a lovely current to the end) ended up not materializing. So, with some navigation tips I managed to ride the 4-knot flood to the end. The water was glassy and peaceful and the majestic rocks near the beach were beautiful to behold. After a minute or two on shore, during which I got a chance to high-five one of my fellow swimmers–a ten-year-old girl!–I swam back to the boat and got on to celebrate my tenth successful Alcatraz escape.
We all got to the boat in one piece!
Now I’m resting up and enjoying the rest of my weekend, happy to be back in the water, and excited about next week’s Alcatraz Invitational and more prep swims for Swim the Suck.
There are two other news tidbits:
1) I heard from my kayaker, Carl, who is a really fabulous dude, and am even more excited about the trip to Tennessee than I was when i registered.
2) My paper, Troubled Waters: Diana Nyad and the Birth of the Global Rules of Marathon Swimming, is out, and has had three publication offers so far. I’ll keep you posted when I accept one of them.