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  #1  
Old 02-03-2012
caronis caronis is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 115
caronis
Default Open Water (Alcatraz) Qualifications for a Newbie

Hello SwimFolk,
I am interested in training to do the Alcatraz Swim (1.5 miles). How doable is it for a Newbie like me?
Let me be more specific.
How fast should I be able to swim a mile in a Pool in order to be proficient enough to do the Alcatraz swim?
I know that I would have to train in the Open Water, but how fast do you think I should be able to swim in the pool?
I ask because I want to know how doable a goal like this is?
If I'm a proficient enough swimmer to be in the ballpark, then I want to know that.
Otherwise, I'll still swim but I'll put more effort into improving my Bowling Score.
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  #2  
Old 02-04-2012
naj naj is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: San Francisco, CA
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naj
Default

I am interested in training to do the Alcatraz Swim (1.5 miles). How doable is it for a Newbie like me?
Let me be more specific.

How fast should I be able to swim a mile in a Pool in order to be proficient enough to do the Alcatraz swim?

I know that I would have to train in the Open Water, but how fast do you think I should be able to swim in the pool?

I ask because I want to know how doable a goal like this is?
If I'm a proficient enough swimmer to be in the ballpark, then I want to know that.

Otherwise, I'll still swim but I'll put more effort into improving my Bowling Score.


Caronis,

I am not sure but I think I've swum Alcatraz more often - with the exception Of Coach Eric DeSanto and Leslie Thomas - than most on this forum. You don't need to be fast to get across. The race directors will pick tides that are favorable for medium and slower swimmers. Depending on where the jump is from the Island, (you are not allowed to jump from Alcatraz so it will be a boat start), you might go to one of three landing spots. Aquatic Park, or Crissy Field East or West.

Folks have swum Alcatraz in as little as 30 minutes and as long as 3 hrs (no lie I know the person!) What you need to get ready for is the cold. The water temp in Summer here in San Francisco is between 55-58F/12-14C. A lot of folks freak out about the cold. I swim year round naked (i.e. without a wetsuit), so for me that temp is heaven. Right now the temp is 49F/9C and though its cold I can still swim for 40-45 mins average.

You can work on speed if you choose but it will be the cold that you will really battle. If your wearing a wetsuit then it won't be that bad, but it would still be wise to get to The City a day or two before and swim in Aquatic Park to get an idea of how the water will feel.

If you wish you can contact me when you come and I'll swim with you if you want. Alcatraz is a great swim and a nice feather in your open water swimming cap. Good luck with training and let us know how it all goes. By the way, what Alcatraz swim is it? Escape From Alcatraz, Alcatraz Invitational, Alcatraz Challenge...? Just curious.

Keep Swimming!
Naji
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  #3  
Old 02-18-2012
caronis caronis is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 115
caronis
Default Naji Newbie Not!

Quote:
Originally Posted by naj View Post
[b][i]

The water temp in Summer here in San Francisco is between 55-58F/12-14C. A I swim year round naked (i.e. without a wetsuit), so for me that temp is heaven. Right now the temp is 49F/9C

If you wish you can contact me when you come and I'll swim with you if you want. By the way, what Alcatraz swim is it? Escape From Alcatraz, Alcatraz Invitational, Alcatraz Challenge...? Just curious.
Hey Naji,

I don't have a wetsuit, but I thought I might rent one for either a week or a month from The Sport Basement to try out laps in Aquatic Park.
I'm wondering if maybe I'm better off waiting until the Spring to avoid shock from the cold. Not literal shock, but perhaps even with a wetsuit, that there might be a big difference between 49F & 55/58F. I don't want to immediately get turned off by the frigid water. What do you think?
How much warmer will the water be in May/June?

Also . . . I have an issue with Parking near Aquatic Park and storing my belongings while I swim. I suppose I can park over by Fort Mason and trek over to Aquatic Park, but where shall I put my belongings? Can I get a locker, hot tub use, etc. from one of the clubs? Dolphin Club or West End Club?
The rumors I've heard about the Dolphin Club is that they expect you to walk in butt naked into their quarters or you'll be kicked out, and that the West End Club is the opposite. They will kick you out if you walk in butt naked.

I haven't decided which Alcatraz Swim appeals to me. I've watched some of them. Do you have any suggestions?

Caronis
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  #4  
Old 02-18-2012
andyinnorway andyinnorway is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2011
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andyinnorway
Default

My first open water experience was last year in a lido early spring @14c I put my wet suit on and after less than a minute it felt nice to be in there, not like cold water at all.

I swam over an hour with rests and everything just like a normal set.

It's a different experience without the wet suit though. Mine is premium too so that may make a difference (blue seventy helix)

Enjoy the open water though it's the best wet suit or not
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  #5  
Old 02-18-2012
naj naj is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 624
naj
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by caronis View Post
Hey Naji,

I don't have a wetsuit, but I thought I might rent one for either a week or a month from The Sport Basement to try out laps in Aquatic Park.
I'm wondering if maybe I'm better off waiting until the Spring to avoid shock from the cold. Not literal shock, but perhaps even with a wetsuit, that there might be a big difference between 49F & 55/58F. I don't want to immediately get turned off by the frigid water. What do you think?
How much warmer will the water be in May/June?

Also . . . I have an issue with Parking near Aquatic Park and storing my belongings while I swim. I suppose I can park over by Fort Mason and trek over to Aquatic Park, but where shall I put my belongings? Can I get a locker, hot tub use, etc. from one of the clubs? Dolphin Club or West End Club?
The rumors I've heard about the Dolphin Club is that they expect you to walk in butt naked into their quarters or you'll be kicked out, and that the West End Club is the opposite. They will kick you out if you walk in butt naked.

I haven't decided which Alcatraz Swim appeals to me. I've watched some of them. Do you have any suggestions?

Caronis
Caronis,

I say go without a wetsuit, but that's just me. But if you do go that route, Sports Basement has a nice selection of wetsuits and the earlier you get in and get acclimated to the water the better.

As for parking, there is parking over on Van Ness St and if you want a place to store your stuff, just get in touch with me and we can meet up at The South End Rowing Club (not West End). We have showers and a sauna so no worries about getting warm after your swim. Like I said before I can swim with you if you choose and give you some tips on swimming in The Bay and swimming Alcatraz.

You can do this swim, trust me

Oh and one last thing, both The Dolphin Club and South End have very few wetsuit members, but at The South End we won't give you s@#t for wearing one, but you'll catch hell if you bring a dripping wetsuit back into the club after your done.

Peace and see you in the water!
Naji

PS I say do the Alcatraz Invitational. Its the best one out there!

Last edited by naj : 02-18-2012 at 02:47 AM.
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  #6  
Old 02-21-2012
trungnguyen trungnguyen is offline
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  #7  
Old 02-21-2012
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CoachStuartMcDougal CoachStuartMcDougal is offline
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CoachStuartMcDougal
Default Alcatraz swim - it's a treat of all treats

Hi Caronis:

Swimming from Alcatraz to the Marina or to Aquatics Park is a real treat, wonderful experience. The swim in either direction is as much about navigation as it is about the swim. Many weaker swimmers can swim the Bay quicker than more experienced swimmers if they know how to navigate current. You are either swimming in ebb (bay is emptying, high to low tide) or the swimming in flood (bay is filling, low to high tides) There is a period of "lull" between ebb and flood where there's little current but only lasts about 30 minutes. In any case you are trying to swim across a river and need to understand its currents. The 1.5mile distance is an approximation (Escape from Alcatraz). It's 2.2 miles as a crow files Alcatraz to the Marina, but depending on ebb (2-4 knots), the swim could be longer or shorter than 1.5 miles. My last Escape I completed in 29 mins which means my 100 pace was around 1:10. I do think that will happen in my lifetime without a current at my back, and given I know the navigation part very well, took full advantage of the ebb. With a 4 knot ebb, and knowing my 100 pace (1:30/100) I think I actually swam an honest 1.25 miles overall.

Can the novice swimmer swim the SF Bay, yes. But get into one of the monthly escorted swim crossings that Coach Pedro (not TI Coach) leads. He's heads up Water World Swim and has successfully escorted many novices across the SF Bay, Alcatraz to the Marian or AP, and round trips too. My fav is "Swim Around the Rock" and "Bridge to Bridge" (Oakland Bay Bridge to Golden Gate). See http://waterworldswim.com/

Some tips for a successful cold water swim in SF Bay:
1. Wear the wetsuit, a full - especially as a novice.
2. Keep your head warm - wear a squid-lid (neoprene thick cap) and a swim cap on top of that. Even the most experienced non-wetsuit Bay swimmers wearing speedo only, wear thick caps to keep their head warm and toasty. Most heat escapes through top of your head. If your mellon is warm, so will your body.
3. Warm core before swim. Don't drink ice cold. Drink you fav sports drink warm, hot chocolate, decaf tea, etc.
4. If you are not bi-lateral breathing, then learn. Swimming from Alcatraz to Marina, if you breathe on right side only, you will inhale half the Bay due to chop created (on your right side) with the ebb going out and winds coming in from the west. Make sure you can breathe well on both left and right sides.

Enjoy your swim, it is a real treat to swim the SF Bay - my fav OW swimming area. And if you have any more questions - don't hesitate to ask

Happy Swimming!

Coach Stuart
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  #8  
Old 03-11-2012
caronis caronis is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 115
caronis
Default Coming to the Bay Soon. What's the Price to Pay?

I will probably be getting into the water in 7-10 days. I'm going to check out the parking situation on Van Ness to make sure I can park when I need to. It's very hard for me to parallel park!
Naj, How much is it now to get into the West End Rowing Club?
Also . . . I am going to stick in the water where the lane markers are. Were you thinking that you might swim with me out beyond Aquatic Park?
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