Swim Report – Alcatraz Challenge – July 12, 2009

The swim organizers indicated that the water conditions were a little rougher than normal and that the currents were a little slower than in previous years. But I personally didn’t think that the swim was any more difficult than some of our Ladder #1 swims in moderately choppy water.

For one thing, the water temperature came in at a tepid 62F – which was the high range for us just a few weeks ago. Second, the salt water substantially adds to your buoyancy, which makes the swim much less of an effort.

Don’t get me wrong. It was still a tough swim. Even with the warmer water, you still had to time the currents correctly and make constant adjustments to where you were sighting. But as I have mentioned many times in the past, if you train regularly in Lake Michigan, you can easily do a swim in San Francisco Bay. So what are you waiting for? 😉

Video shot of the pre-race crowd

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  1. LukeM3
    July 24, 2009

    So I’m sitting in my PJ bottoms, fleece top and bright orange and yellow skimpy tri suit waiting to be dropped off near Alcatraz a few weeks ago. A boat load of us are a bit nervous and striking up conversations to keep our nerves in check. Met all kinds of people from California, and felt oh so special because I came all the way from Illinois. Wouldn’t you know it, 2 people away from me on the boat is Steve from Open Water Chicago. Small world.

    To prep for Alcatraz I swam (sans wet suit) in Lake Michigan in Highland Park. The water was 56-64 degrees in the 6-7 times I swam from late June until early July. The water at Alcatraz Challenge was 60 on 7/12. So temps aren’t the issue. I jumped off the pier in HP to simulate the jump from the ferry at the start of the Alcatraz race. What I underestimated where the currents, waves, and foggy conditions. Oh and how can I forget all the salt water I snorted.

    So if a flabby old guy can make the swim (and follow up with the 7-mile run), surely you young whipper snappers in wet suits and neoprene caps can do it.

    You gotta swim Alcatraz–at least once.

  2. John S
    July 20, 2009

    Great report.
    I am from NW Indiana and did the Alcatraz Challenge along with 7 family members. I agree that if you swim Lake Michigan you can easily do Alcatraz.

    • srhernan
      July 20, 2009

      Congratulations John!

  3. George Rehmet
    July 16, 2009

    The water gets colder by a few degrees as you get out into the Pacific Ocean and warmer as you head into the bay. Thanks for swimming in our event. Next year it’s on July 18.

  4. Johannes
    July 14, 2009

    Nice post! I enjoyed the swim, too. And yeah, 62 F is pretty warm for Northern California. I think if you swim outside the GG bridge it should be a bit cooler.

  5. Carol
    July 14, 2009

    OK, that was your view, what did Ann think of the swim? I have less than 3 months till my SF swim and alot more practice at Ladder 1.

  6. diver dave
    July 14, 2009

    WELL DID YOU SHAVE DOWN AND SWIM NAKED TO SHOW THEM HOW TOUGH THE LADDER #1 GANG IN CHICAGO IS???? DID YOU WIN A BIG TROPHY ?


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