As part of our honeymoon Tom had surprised me by booking us in for the Sharkfest Alcatraz swim. The email arrived into my inbox telling me I had booked onto the Alcatraz swim just days after a great white had been spotted ‘playing’ with a seal by the ferry port. So as I packed to leave to Vegas, followed by our California Road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco I took the brightest cozzie I could find and advised Tom to leave his wetsuit at home so we looked less like seals!
There wasn’t many training opportunities whilst we were away but we did have a chance to have a quick dip in Tenaya Lake in Yosemite – a beautiful location and setting and was lovely to cool off and have a short ‘acclimatisation’ swim! We did also do a few laps between cocktails in Vegas in one of the pools at Caesars Palace but not sure I can count that!
We had been staying Santa Cruz, where Tom had managed a quick dip, and so after the Friday night concert we drove up the coast to the outskirts of San Francisco where we stayed for the night. It was incredibly misty when we arrived and when we woke up and drove down at 6am the next morning it was still the same.
When we arrived to register we still couldn’t see the Alcatraz so there was some question as to whether the swim would be able to start. From the registration there is a walk to the Ferry port, as 900 of us in swimming costumes and wetsuits walked to the ferries the tourists out for their early morning strolls and breakfasts were very bemused!
We boarded the ferries and headed out to Alcatraz island all hoping that the swim (Sharkfest) didn’t live up to it’s name. As we neared Alcatraz all the swimmers started jumping off the side of the boat and headed over to the start of the swim – a line of kayakers. As we neared the mist lifted and we could see the mainland and where we would be finishing. As we jumped into the water, 2 of very few without wetsuits the water felt fresh – they had said that it was between 14-15 degrees. I waited at the back with Tom and when the horn went off we went.
The swim is only 1.5 miles but due to the strong currents (hence why the prisoners were never able to escape) unless you aim for the right place then you get swept past the Aquatic Park where the finish is. I checked Tom was okay and stopped a few times to check he was on his way and then decided to head off.
I completely sighted wrong and went too far to the left and ended up swimming along the Aquatic Park wall for far too long but after 48 minutes I arrived safely on the beach to the crowds who were cheering in their loved ones. Mine was still out there somewhere, so I went and got changed and grabbed my camera to get some snaps of him finishing – luckily by not wearing a wetsuit he was much easier to spot.
We were two of twelve Brits represented at the swim and people had flown from all over including Australia to come and swim in this iconic swim. It turned into a lovely afternoon as we cheered in the last of the swimmers.
We grabbed some lunch and then carried on with our honeymoon festivities – a night at the ball game watching the Giants win!
There are many Alcatraz swims and triathlons organised throughout the year, if you find yourself out there have a look and see if you can find one – definitely an iconic swim to tick off the bucket list!