Cold water challenge
Swimming from one end of the Golden Gate Bridge to the other end was not even a thought in my head a year ago. It was only when fellow swimmers Steve Royce and Sunny Chamblee told me that they had signed up for the swim that I began to think about it. I thought that it was a good idea to take on the challenge as practice for the Robben Island Crossing next year.
SharkFest Swim July 22nd, 2018 Golden Gate Bridge – A video of the swim event
The swim was safe and very well organized with catchy marketing. The annual “SharkFest Swim” series includes two stops in the San Francisco Bay area – the Alcatraz Swim and the Golden Gate Bridge.
After much anticipation and practice, the day arrived – Sunday July 22nd, 2018.
After registration, where I was marked number 74 on both my hands and given a yellow swim cap, we were welcomed by the organizer in his booming voice. Swimmers gathered at 8am at Gabrielson Park in Sausalito, located about a mile from the north end of the bridge in Marin County.
America The Beautiful
At the end of his comments he pointed at me and had me join him on stage to lead the 130 swimmers in a rendition of America The Beautiful. (Warning: Block you ears when you watch the video with me singing!)
Skins and Suits
We soon boarded the ferry waiting nearby. Steve and I were only among a few swimmers that didn’t wear wetsuits. Soon we were on our one way journey.
There was excitement as we left. The mood became serious as we approached the area where we jumped off the ferry into the bay. There was not much talking. People focused on the task at hand. An almost 2 mile swim under the iconic bridge was ahead of us.
The Swim – One-way ferry ride
The water temperature was about 63 degrees Fahrenheit, the weather was grey, and there were jellyfish in the choppy waters. The horn sounded and we were off – all of us with bright yellow swim caps splashing our way to Horse Shoe Bay on the north side of the bridge.
The swim was timed during the end of the flood tide, so we were “gently” pushed into the bay by the incoming tide. It was stronger than I anticipated, and I soon found myself way off course. One of the many kayakers helped redirect me back on course.
Soon I found my rhythm, and as I got closer to the destination the water became calmer.
A unique Perspective
The perspective of the bridge from the water beneath is something I won’t soon forget. But quicker than I thought I arrived at the destination – in just under 45 minutes.
Steve Royce earned first place in his age group for swimmers without wet suits and earned a gold medal and bottle of Sharkfest Bloody Red wine…
At the awards ceremony after the swim, I was surprised to receive a medal for placing 3rd in my age group.
Sunny Chamblee finished 2nd in her age group.
After drying off, Jeanie and I headed into Sausalito for a great breakfast at the Lighthouse Cafe.
What a memorable day.