Dave Van Mouwerik's Swim Around Angel Island
I was able to complete the swim, but it was very difficult. There were many forms of adversity.
The water temp was between 56 and 69 the whole swim, mostly at 57 and 58.
Angel, the 15 year old who was to swim the night before me, was unable to start, due to fog—her swim was cancelled. ( I was counting on learning more about the tides that would be experiencing, based on her swim the day before mine.)
I came away with a healthy respect for the power of flood tides and ebb tides, and what they do to a swimmer.
The first 3 hours of my swim were in darkness, and in this swim I had a boat escort, but no kayaker or paddleboarder with me, so I felt an extra dose of isolation.
I planned on a 6hr 2 min swim, but when I finally touched back on the sand at Aquatic Park, 9 hrs 47 min had elapsed.
At one point, I got tapped or “pinged” by some little fish (maybe only two inches long), maybe 5 or 6 of them over a 15 minute period, but it happened in the darkness, and it unnerved me.
Below is a map of the idealized route, and below that is my actual track.
Some things to note:
· This was a clockwise swim
· When I rounded Angel Island, and got to the southeast side of it, I had taken 5 hours two swim those 7 miles. The remaining 3 miles took nearly 5 more hours (4 hrs 47 min)
· The odd little Curly Q on the southeast side of the island has an explanation. My boat pilot with in constant contact with Vessel Traffic, and they kept him abreast of latest cargo ship traffic. They let him know that a cargo vessel would be coming through (inbound), and we could not enter the shipping lane just south of Angel Island until it passed. So I had to swim around for 40 minutes in 57 degree water, trying to keep warm while waiting for the ship to pass; I got to the point where my teeth were chattering and my body was shivering; fortunately, once I was swimming with a purpose again, after the ship passed, I warmed up a bit (whatever that means when you’re in a speedo in 57 degree water…)
· My plan for the return swim to be on the east side of Alcatraz was thwarted by the ebb, which kept pushing me towards the Golden Gate Bridge. We crabbed mightily against it, but gained little advancement towards Alcatraz over about 1.5 hours. (I was virtually “swimming in place”.) Eventually we ducked behind the lee of Alcatraz on the west side (the lee from the ebbing tide), and scooted south before we entered the final push between Alcatraz and Aquatic Park. By that time the ebb was abating, and we were able to cross that final 1.1 miles with less of a crabbing effort that we put out on the north side of Alcatraz
I swam the final 2/10’s of a mile into Aquatic Park by myself, since boats are not allowed in there. From the entrance to Aquatic Park the observer on the boat was able to see me walk out of the water to dry sand, and so officially record the swim. Then I re-entered the water, and swam back out through Aquatic Park to the boat.
This was a fantastic experience, that I will treasure. There were adversities aplenty, and the swim almost “cracked” me, but I was able to prevail, and experience a potent sense of accomplishment.
I remember hauling myself on the platform on the back of the boat, while the crew sprayed warm water on me from a hose, while I just hunkered there; relieved, spent, joyful.
Gratitude to Davis Best (crew chief), Evan Morrison (Observer), Bryan Temmermand and Sylvia Lacock (boat pilots).
“…And you will sense the presence of the divine salitter in the cerulean sea, and All will be well…” (John Hampsey)
Dave has told me that the records for this swim are a bit sketchy, but including his successful attempt there are 11 confirmed completed swims and at least as many DNF's.
Dave Van Mouwerik