On Saturday September 21, Natalie and her friend Lori took part in a swim from Alcatraz Island. They really enjoyed the event and Natalie kindly shared their experience with us. 

What were conditions like?

The weather was amazing. Flat water, sunny skies. I think we lucked out because the next day it was very foggy. The water was very salty and silty. Apparently another group two weeks before us got hit with big waves and chop. If you are considering this event you need to be prepared for anything!

Given the flat water on the day of our swim, sighting was not hard. There are several major landmarks on shore we could easily see. The trick is adjusting to the current. When the current is strong, you have to swim directly across toward shore and let the current push you to the beach downstream. However, the current wasn’t strong the day of our swim so we could sight where we wanted to end up. The water temperature was really nice (relative to the Rockies Lakes we are used to anyways!) Canadians will be fine.

What company did you swim with?

We booked our swim with a company called Odyssey Open Water Swimming based out of San Francisco. Our event was with a group of about 100-150 other swimmers although they do offer private boat options as well. We booked back in the spring when dates were first announced to avoid the waitlist. If you are looking to do something like this, be sure to do your homework on companies and ask lots of questions like group size, safety protocol, can you stop and take pictures along the way? We had lots of kayakers as support and eight motor boats out.

Was there a qualifier for this event?

No, there was not a qualifier requirement for this event. It’s not a race or timed event. Not even like a Fondo. You just pay money and it’s up to you to show up and be prepared. If you choose to do a longer swim like Trans Bay or Bridge to Bridge you do have to provide a swim resume and proof of swim ability in cold water.

Would you recommend this event?

I would definitely recommend this swim!  San Francisco is a beautiful city with a huge swim culture. There are lots of beaches, showers, clubs etc.  There’s swimming going on all over the place. You could easily make it a family trip or a mini adventure weekend with a friend. You can grab a cheap direct flight. And don’t forget to go to the Buena Vista Cafe for world famous Irish coffee after.

Thank you so much Natalie for sharing your experience about this cool open water swim event! I’m sure others will find it interesting to learn that there are swim “experiences” out there, not just timed events. 
If  you are interested in an event like this and need some help preparing, contact Mary@lynxtriathlon.com