Last week I swam two Alcatraz crossings – the first with WaterWorldSwim, and the second, the Alcatraz Invitational, with my new club, the South End Rowing Club.
I registered for the latter months ago, because I auctioned two swims for students at the Hastings Public Interest Law Foundation auction last year. I decided to swim Alcatraz on Saturday as well as Sunday because I heard through a friend that the East Oakland Swim Club was trying to get people of color and friends (I would, of course, be “and friends”) to swim open water, and desegregating this sport has always been very important to me. It’s a huge issue in swimming, and particularly problematic when one keeps in mind that many low-income folks of color live in places in which not knowing how to swim truly endangers lives. It was especially amazing to escape from Alcatraz with folks who cared about reversing this sad trend, because Alcatraz itself, in its heyday, was a segregated prison.
The swim on Saturday was incredibly fun. I made new East Bay friends and met more new friends on the boat, many of them from the UK and Australia. I swam butterfly most of the way, save for a few hundred yards when I was chided by a kayaker that I needed to “gain some distance” and make it through the shipping channel on time. So, I can’t count this as an all-butterfly swim, but I’m still chuffed to have made it in 1:08. The secret was to go obscenely slow and let the salt water help with undulation and buoyancy.
And the swim on Sunday was also marvelous. My students are so fast! Especially Lacey, who is an experienced and avid water polo player, who ended up coming in second in the non-suits division with an amazing time of 37 mins. I think Lacey has caught the open water bug and will continue to shine in OW racing from now on, and I hope to have a chance to swim far behind her and cheer for her! Emily and Cliff also did very well. I was still a bit tired from the butterfly effort the day before, so I came in at 57 mins, and was happy as a clam to see everyone on the other side!
Another fun wrinkle was taking a gorgeous gym bag prototype with me. Activyst, a gym gear company trying to advance the cause of girls in sports, makes these bags out of water resistant material, did a contest, and I won–which meant the prototype arrived at my house a few days before the swim and I was to take pictures of it in action. Archer took to it immediately, of course.
Activyst have very kindly offered to sponsor me and help publicize my charity marathon swims, which will be terrific of them. I swam Tampa for formerly incarcerated folks, and I hope to continue fundraising for worthy causes in my next swims, which will probably include Catalina, Swim the Suck, and (if planning goes right) a crossing from Isla de la Plata to Bahia in Ecuador. But more on that some other time.
My next open water opportunity is hardly worth mentioning – 400 yards of reservoir swimming in tomorrow’s See Jane Run sprint triathlon. I’ve never done a triathlon before, and I have no fancy gear or land sport skills to speak of, but I think I can bike eight miles and run three without keeling over. My book is due with the publisher early next week, and after it’s done, I can get more rigorous about training for the bigger marathon swims coming up next summer.