Angela Williamson - Round-Trip Angel Island

Counter-clockwise loop around Angel Island from Aquatic Park

16.1 km (10.0 miles)

7 hours, 50 minutes on 22 September 2023

Observed and documented by Cathy Harrington



  • Name: Angela Williamson
  • Gender: female
  • Age on swim date: 38
  • Nationality: United States
  • Resides: Portland, Oregon

Support Personnel


Cathy Harrington - Frequent observer for Lake Tahoe marathon swims. Completed CCSF and SBCSA observer trainings.

Escort Vessel: Ghost Rider

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Textile swimsuit (Jolyn 2-piece Top - Vent top, Bottom - Zoe), silicone cap, goggles.

Route Definition

Start @ Aquatic Park (public beach, next to Dolphin Club dock), exit through Aquatic Park opening, counter-clockwise around Angel Island, return to Aquatic Park beach via opening.

  • Body of Water: San Francisco Bay
  • Route Type: island loop
  • Start & Finish Location: Aquatic Park public beach, San Francisco (37.808145, -122.421402)
  • Minimum Route Distance: 16.1 km (10.0 miles) (map)


LongSwimsDB: Round-Trip Angel Island swims

Swim Data

  • Start: 22 September 2023, 03:38:30 (Pacific Daylight, America/Los_Angeles (UTC-7)).
  • Finish: 22 September 2023, 11:28:39
  • Elapsed: 7 hours, 50 minutes, 9 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (F) 62.7 65.3
Air Temp (F) 58.5 63.8
Wind (mph) 0.6 3.2

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 10 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Speed Plot

Nutrition: See observer log.

Observer Log

Download PDF

Note: Observer log mistakenly lists the swim date as August 22. It was September 22.

Observer Report

by Angie Williamson

What inspired you to do this swim?

In 2019 I met Lisa Amorao at the 24 Hour Relay and she told me about the swim, it peaked my interest and I set my sights on it for “some time in the future.” Lisa described RTAI as a swim where anything can happen, conditions constantly change, and one where starting the swim didn’t guarantee finish despites it’s somewhat shorter distance. Lisa’s enthusiasm for swimming in the Bay area and her infectious personality made quite the impression on me and I began marathon swimming in earnest. Then the pandemic hit and I started swimming outside more and more, I completed my first long swims and felt like it was time to attempt RTAI in 2022. Lisa and I spoke early in the year and she agreed to be my observer and provided me with beta on the swim. Unfortunately, Lisa passed away. This swim is a way to honor her and follow through on plans that started very early in my marathon swimming career. I am proud that Cathy Harrington agreed to serve as my observer and our shared friendship with Lisa made the swim all that much more meaningful.

Describe how you planned for the swim.

I planned for the swim by reviewing several swims from the Longest Swim Database, conversing with others that had completed the swim, and reached out to fellow SERC swimmers for beta. I worked with my pilot, Tom, to determine a good window and went from there. I tested my feeds ahead of time and completed training swims of up to 6 hours in preparation.

How did the swim go, generally? Did you face any unanticipated challenges?

This was the hardest swim I’ve completed to date. THe first few hours were fantastic, the miles and time went by fast, then sometime around dawn I sarted throwing up. I didn’t keep much food down for the next three and a half hours. My feeds came right back up, I kept down banana and flat Coke. At one point my legs cramped up so bad I couldn’t use them to tread water and the cramps started creeping up to my hips and neck. Coming back around Alcatraz I got stuck and swam against the current for an hour or so until breaking through, the cramps were the worst during that time but I was also able to get my stomach to calm down some and kept enough flat Coke in me to make into Aquatic Park and finish the swim. That sums up my part of the swim, but the crew! Wow! Sue tole me “Dad Jokes” with my feeds, Pepper kept my spirits up, and everyone cheered me on when I thought I wouldn’t make it. WIthout my crew the swim would have been impossible, not just for their assigned roles in the swim but the mental and emotional support they provided along the way too.

From my blog

Entering the water I remember thinking that it felt warm, but it could be that I had been standing outside in my DryRobe for about an hour waiting for the start. For whatever reason, I am glad it felt warm and comfortable, if I had felt cold off the bat it would have likely been in a poor mindset from the beginning. It ended up taking me quite some time to get to that place. The beginning of the swims was FAST I remember approaching Alcatraz and thinking, “How am I here already?” I felt strong, nothing hurt, it was dark and I was swimming into the dawn- one of my favorite things. I remember the glow of light coming from the east and the breeze picking up slightly, a harbinger of the sunrise. As we continued our approach of Alcatraz a massive barge changed course to avoid us- and it was close- I could feel the water humming with the engine. Sue said I was fine, so I put my head down and kept going. As we reached Angel Island I took a feed and my stomach started to protest all the liquid I’d been shoving down my gullet and I had my first (but not last) little mouth vomit. I hoped this was a one-and-done situation and I wouldn’t be sick all swim. Alas, it was the first of many. I would continue to vomit periodically for the next 3 or 4 hours. I stopped eating for a while to let my stomach calm down and finally kept some Gatorade and banana down midway between Angel Island and Alcatraz on the way back to Aquatic Park. Anyway, swimming around Angel Island went so fast that I hardly had time to enjoy the scenery, but I did get serenaded by coyotes at sunrise.

Raccoon Straits went by without a hitch, I was well aware of where I was because of the buoy and was instantly prepared to be stopped dead in my tracks, but I wasn’t! Better swimmers than I have been stalled out at Raccoon Straits for an hour or more on this swim, but the sea was with me and I plowed right on through, minus some of my feeds Exiting Angel Island is where everything changed. My legs started cramping and became dead weight, whenever I kicked (which I am fond of to take pressure off my shoulders) my whole body was gripped by extreme cramps. My triceps started to cramp. I remember thinking “I can swim without my legs, but not without my arms” (in the video this is the “I don’t think I’m going to make it” moment). I switched to focusing on my rotation and “balancing on a ski” to increase my glide and reduce my effort. Then the Gatorade and banana stayed down, then the flat Coke stayed down and I started making progress again. Oh, yeah, I stalled out for about an hour hardly making any progress, but then I started to move. I was so pissed during that part of the swim, I was trying so hard and going nowhere, but when I started moving I stopped- gave The Rock The Finger, and shouted “Fuck you, Alcatraz!” It was at that moment I knew I would finish.

Entering the channel between Alcatraz and Aquatic Park my crew told me I had to go faster, I was in danger of being hit with the flood tide and missing my window to enter Aquatic park and finish my swim. I took the last of the flat Coke (might have been something else, IDK) and gave it my all. I sprinted for everything I was worth for that last half mile or so. I felt POWERFUL. After almost 8 hours and very little to eat, I felt like a beast. I cruised through Aquatic Park, feeling good (other than my throat was raw from vomiting for hours, my shoulders tired, and my mouth feeling fuzzy from salt water), and exited the water under my own power.