Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Getting Ready - South End Rowing Club Alcatraz Invitational

What a diverse mix of similar people.  Such a mix of personalities and backgrounds.  We're all getting ready to swim the SERC Alcatraz Invitational swim.  So, what do we all have in common?  For one, we all belong to Mike Lynch, our coach at Peninsula Community Aquatics Masters

Mike's over there on the right, 3rd guy up in the back.  He's hard to notice, and I think he likes it that way.  And yet, he's drawn together some of the nicest, friendliest, most inspiring, fun, motivated, driven people I know.  He helps us all, getting where we want to go.  In this case, we just finished our swim in aquatic park.  Yep, the water has warmed up to a balmy 61.3 degrees.  Up from a bone-chilling 59.5 degrees last time I got in.  Cold enough to induce amnesia.  Another story you'll have to ask me about.  The short answer is, he's alright now, thank God.

We're standing in a history-rich section of San Francisco, at Hyde and Beach.  That's the famous Irish coffee bar, Buena Vista on the far corner, and you can see the cable car coming to the end of the line.

Looking the other way down Hyde Street, you see the Pier and Alcatraz in the background just to the right.
Here's down the other side of Hyde Street Pier.  It's an interesting vantage point where you almost feel like you've gone back in time, with the tall ship and all it's huge masts, the steamer ship, and old pier to the right, and a small one on the left.  Probably something like it looked a hundred years ago, or more.
 See the Golden Gate?  In front of that is the pier on the left of Aquatic Park.  We swim along that, to the opening, you can't see in this view, but essentially, from outside the opening, you can see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate.  It's a spectacular view, and exciting to see it from the water.
 I Throw this shot in for a couple reasons.  It's the best I've got showing a tid bit of the concrete bleachers just above the two fences on the right, to the left of the flags.  That's the finish line of the swim.  You come out to a small beach, like the one in the foreground.  Also, you can see Ghirardelli Square sign on the horizon for a landmark everyone has heard of.  To the right of Ghirardelli are a pair of tall apartment buildings.  That is what I target, or sight on, when doing the Alcatraz swim.  It's big enough I can usually pick it out, even with waves, or obstructed goggles.

The white building top left is the Dolphin club, which further left, next to it, is the South End Rowing Club building.  The beach we swim from is just on the other side of that fence.
The other side of the fence, is shown here.  Each club has a small dock, they take their vintage row boats out from there.  We swim out, from between the two docks.

I put this in, because this was a picture someone took a couple hours before the 2009 Alcatraz swim.   You may notice, this is from outside the bridge. We actually had a bit of rain during the swim.  I don't think there was any more lightning.  Pretty rare in these parts.  Probably 20% of the swimmers opted out this year.  :-)


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