Remarkable day today in the water! A bit of a late start, but very much worth it. I woke up early, having managed to creak my neck during the night, and briefly considered passing; the impulse quelled and I put on my bikini and sweats and rode off into the sunrise.
By 7am, there was already quite a scene at Aquatic Park. Registration lines were wild! The bay looked beautiful and serene as ever. And it was big fun to run into Dave Conners and Sarah Mehl, two of my favorite people, who were both volunteering for the event.
Gary Emich, who gave us the briefing before the swim, mentioned that “Mother Nature threw us a curveball” and that the current was actually flowing from the west. He advised us, therefore, to aim west, so the current would take us in as we approach the entrance to Aquatic Park. This sort of situation has never happened to me in an Alcatraz swim; I always have to aim conservatively to the East to make it. A kind South-Ender named Christine, who sat in the ferry next to me, helped me figure out that I’d probably need to aim at the pumphouse or at the top of the “wedding cake” at the Western entrance.
Two things became evident as soon as I jumped out: first, the temps were perfect (circa 65-66, Gary had said), and second, I couldn’t feel any current at all. For a few minutes I did aim conservatively west, but I realized I wasn’t being pulled or pushed in any direction. So, I started stroking pretty vigorously straight at the entrance, slightly toward the right side.
This was one of the quickest Alcatraz swims I’d ever done. I felt strong all the way; my neck was bothering me, but not too much, and I compensating by breathing more to the side that hurt less. I didn’t even need to be on anyone’s feet, because the sheer volume of swimmers (800 souls, two ferries’ worth of people!) created its own momentum toward the finish line. I was even kicking almost all the way, which I almost never do!
I ended up finishing in 50:54 mins, which is a nice time considering the injuries etc and quite possibly my best result in recent years, and happily enjoying the sun and excited chatter of my fellow swimmers until the last people arrived safely to shore.