Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Bridge to Bridge - San Francisco

I have been having a fantastic time in San Francisco, meeting swimmers, doing lots of interviews, and generally (believe it or not) getting a lot of work done. But then again, all work and no play....So, on Saturday, I did the Bridge to Bridge swim, courtesy of Swim-Art and the wonderful Leslie Thomas. The swim is from the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge to the Bay Bridge - a distance of about 6 miles, but with a strong tidal push to help us along.

After a briefing, we boarded the "Lovely Martha" and motored out to our starting point - the Golden Gate Bridge. It's a stunning edifice, but I have to say, it looked a little bit moody in the early morning fog...

The water was looking a bit angry too, especially around the bridge pilons, and as the flotilla of safety kayakers make their way over to us, it all looked a bit grizzly....but still very exciting.

It was windy and chilly on deck, and I wondered what kind of swim this was going to be...

We were given a 5 minute warning, and readied ourselves to jump off. I was cutting my usual glamorous and elegant figure.

And then it was time to jump...

And then we started swimming - I was paired with Graham, plus the wonderful Suzie Dods in the kayak, and we swam very happily and peacefully along the coastline at a well-matched pace throughout (plus we were later joined by Chelsea, who had outpaced her original group, and we all continued to swim on merrily together). And after about half an hour, joy of joys, the clouds lifted, the water flattened, and we were treated to a beautiful, sharply-defined view of the city.

I've been lucky enough to do a lot of fabulous swims, but this was one of the most exhilerating and enjoyable swims I've ever done - perfect conditions, great views, good swimming companions, and a nice distance - enough to know you've had a good swim, but not so much that you need to lie down in a dark room afterwards. I wanted to stay in forever.

But all too soon we had reached the Bay Bridge, passing through the shadow that it cast on the water, and hearing the rumble of traffic as went swam beneath...and then over to the boat. I retrieved my bottle and waterproof camera from Suzie, sticking the bottle in my mouth so that I could use both hands to shove the camera up the side of my costume before climbing up the ladder. Thanks to whoever it was on the boat who captured my triumphant (and once again, elegant) finish!

The mood on the boat was wonderful - lots of excited talk and awash with the satisfaction of a good morning's swimming in perfect conditions. All in all, an excellent day. Many thanks to Swim-Art for running such an excellent swim - I'd recommend them to anyone who fancies a dip in San Francisco Bay. And special thanks to Suzie Dods who kept us safe from the kayak.

We were lucky enough to have Karen Drinkwater, a professional photographer, on board, who took some beautiful photographs of the day. She took all of the photos shown here, except for the shot of me with the bottle in my mouth, and the picture of the kayakers in the fog. (I pilfered these off the Swim-Art Facebook page and don't know who the photographer is, but will happily credit them if they get in touch). Thanks for the beautiful pictures, Karen.

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