adrian is rad


Alcatraz Sharkfest swim

Filed under: — adrian @ 11:48 pm

I did the Alcatraz Sharkest swim yesterday. It’s a 1.5 mile swim from Alcatraz to Aqautic Park, San Francisco. Water temperature yesterday was reported as various numbers between 57 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit.

I made another hastily draw map with annotations (you’re welcome!) of the race route for you to follow along with.

I got there and registered. I went and sat down for a while in the grandstands, waiting for the pre-race announcements. I was pretty anxious at this point.

The race director came out and said a few things, including how there was a 9 year old and a 70 year old both participating in the race. He asked if there were any questions and someone asked where we should sight. He sort of offhandedly (foreshadowing!) responded that the three-masted ship to the east of Aquatic Park and also there’d be a guide boat with orange bouys to the front of the race.

See, sighting is important for this swim because there is a current that goes out of the bay (east to west) right near the shore/ breakwater so if you aim for the entrance of Aquatic Park you will end up far to the west of the entrance and you won’t be able to make it back.

After the prerace announcments we all walked down to Pier 41 to board the ferries to go out to the Island. Some people on the boats were pretty talkative and jovial and others were concentrating and getting prepared. I was in the latter pack. As I was sitting there and preparing and stretching, I felt the muscle between my right shoulder and neck sort of tighten up. I don’t know if anyone else gets these but I get cricks in my neck and shoulders sometimes. Usually I wake up with them but sometimes they just happen and I can’t stop them. I don’t think this one had anything to do with the stretching or the race but once it was a crick it wasn’t going away. I decided I’d prepared for this for months and that I wasn’t going to give up at this point. (I’d decided earlier in the day that I wasn’t going to give up before 200 yards after the beginning of the race, knowing that the shock of jumping out of the boat and that distance would be the hardest points of the race and the time when I’d be most likely to want to give up if I wanted to/ had to.)

The jump from the boat was a shock to the system, as I expected, but, by the time I got to where the kayaks were lined up to denote the starting line, the shock/ panic breathing was out of my system and I was feeling okay.

The swim started and was going pretty smoothly. There were two sections where they were pretty sizable swells—or they felt sizable at least—and that was a new experience for me. Between those two sections was pretty calm and warm, actually. I kept up a pretty decent pace and I knew I was swimming pretty hard but I didn’t feel like I was getting tired so I thought I’d just keep it up and if I needed to slow down a bit later I would.

As I mentioned earlier, the way the course is supposed to work, you swim to the east of the entrance to Aquatic Park and the current basically sweeps you west so you swim directly into the entrance. Now what happened was that I was swimming along toward the three-masted ship or even farther left/ east and then quite suddenly I was too far right/ west. The current was stronger than someone thought, apparenlty. Now I had to swim against the current to get back to the entrance. I swam hard and the pier to my right (at that point) didn’t look like it was moving relative to me. I kept swimming hard and saw that the pier was moving slowly relatively to me. All this swimming hard was getting me tired and I was worried I’d not be able to make it and have to get picked up by one of the kayaks. After probably five minutes of this I was getting pretty tired but I made it into the entrance and the finish area was in sight.

Everyone I talked to after the race also ended up too far west and had to swim against the current.

I swam somewhat slower for a bit to recover and then I picked up the pace again and sprinted to the finish. Ann, a coworker of mine, was at the finish area to cheer me in.

Overall, it was not as bad as I expected. My neck/ shoulder crick hurt most of yesterday and I took a bit to warm up but my body didn’t feel the effects of it too much.

Updates to come: photos of me finishing and my time once they post the times.

[Update 1:] My official finishing time was 57:01.0. Subtract a few minutes for those shenanigans with the current and that’s a decent time. I came in 68 out of 96 non-wetsuiters and 4th in the 20-24 age division.

[Update 2:] A picture of me finishing the race:

2 Responses to “Alcatraz Sharkfest swim”

  1. Dolphio Says:

    Cool man, sounds pretty awesome. Congrats

  2. adrian is rad » considering Says:

    […] I’ve been considering, trying to decide whether to do the Alcatraz swim again. It’s early next June. […]

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