24 December 2006

"Below 50"

"What's the temp?"
I ask Amber as we stand on the beach.
"It just says 'below 50' "
she responds.

BELOW 50? Oh no! That is almost bone chilling cold. There are two temperature drops that I can feel more than any others. The first one is the drop below 53 degrees. That happened over a month ago and was a clear indication that the tropical summer temperatures were long gone and wouldn't return until at least June. The next one is the dreaded drop below 50. This is when we are clearly in the darkest, coldest days of winter. It may drop serveral more degrees before our New Year's Day Alcatraz swim. brrrrr!

Amber and I jumped with Cory just past 8 a.m. this morning. I got in the water first and headed towards the opening in route to the bad Becky buoy. The three of us stayed together as we did a reverse cove. We made a slight change in our course when we saw a harbor seal playing around the landmark we were headed towards - the repair. The repair is a section of Muni Pier that was repaired many many years ago and still looks different than the rest of the pier. I momentarily stopped to watch the seal - mostly out of curiosity, but out of envy as well. Envious of how well it is suited for this piercingly cold environment.

16 December 2006

NYD Qualifier

77 swimmers jumped this morning from the beach in front of the club to an outside-inside-reverse cove as a qualifying swim for the New Years Day Alcatraz. I was in the water for 46 minutes. The consensus in the womens sauna was that the temperature was about 52F. I didn't wear my temperature watch, but I did bring my camera and got a few shots as we left the opening of Aquatic Park. I am very tired from an exhausting week. It is time for a long nap.

14 December 2006

Documenting the Dark Days of Winter

The dark, cold mornings of winter are here. The temperature of the bay has dropped about 7 degrees in the past month. It now ranges between 51-53 F and fluctuates daily. As the winter solstice approaches the days are getting shorter and shorter and my morning bay swims are getting darker and darker. The sunriser swimmers of the South End don't swim early enough for me to get to school on time so I swim with a group of Dolphin Club "pre-sunriser" swimmers. Cory and I are often timid entering the water, but Bob and Nigel run ahead and practically leap in the water. Sometimes Steve gets in 15-30 minutes ahead of us to log in the miles for what ever challenge the Dolphins are up to. If we are lucky, he doesn't scare us by the flag by sounding like a barking sea lion. Jim (Cory's husband) starts a few minutes ahead of us and follows our course. We catch up with him sometime during the swim.

I brought my new camera (a shockproof, waterproof Olympus Stylus 720 SW) for a swim on Tuesday in hopes of capturing the allure and mystery of swimming in the bay in the dark. Tuesday was one of those days where as I walked towards the water I repeated out loud "We're crazy, We're crazy, We're crazy". It was a different kind of dark out. The sky was covered with clouds and there wasn't even a hint of light from the moon. On top of that it was raining. It is a cold, rainy, dark December morning and I am jumping in the San Francisco Bay. Crazy. After about 30 minutes of swimming in the dark and running into debris from the recent rain, Cory and I swam into the beach. My dear friend Amber met us on the beach and gave Cory and I a sip of her warm mint tea. What a treat! We chatted a bit and then Cory and I ran off to hit the showers at our respective clubs.

The photos didn't work as well as I had hoped. Maybe I'll get some better photos this weekend when I get to swim in the light.

05 December 2006

Links to Photos of "Hyde from the Breakers"

Thank you to Colin Gift of the Dolphin Club for these photos of the September 11th SERC swim from Seal Rocks back to the club.

A timid jump from the boat:

Duke and I head towards the Golden Gate:

I just ordered a waterproof digital camera so look forward to more photos and tales from the bay here soon. Upcoming events include the winter solstice sunrise/sunset swim on the 21st and the New Years Day swim from Alcatraz.