Thursday, November 2, 2017

Dave's Swim Around Angle Island

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 Van Mouwerik

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.

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