Escape from Alcatraz

I have a tendency to agree to large commitments, panic, and then barely pull them off. That is the anthem of any testing season for me.

My dad and I signed up to rent wetsuits, take a boat to Alcatraz, and swim back to San Francisco months in advance. Three weeks before the big event, I had not even gone to the pool once. In addition, I had never swum even one mile before. And I had never swum in open water before.

The first day I realized I really needed to train, I told myself that I was going to swim one mile straight. I needed to prepare to swim two miles (but really more than that since I’d be in open water) so I figured that would be a good starting distance.

I died.

I couldn’t even lift myself out of the pool after that mile. I had to flop my body over the edge. I was lightheaded and I lay on the ground very concerned about what I had gotten myself into.

Three weeks later at 4am, my dad and I woke up and drove to Fisherman’s Wharf. We signed in, listened to instructions, got yellow Odyssey Swim caps, boarded the boats, and took off in the dark. As we arrived at Alcatraz, the sun had just come up. It shone golden on the Bay bridge. It was genuinely serene and made me wish I had my camera.

I was both excited and full of dread. I jumped off the boat and was jolted by the cold of the Bay water on my face, hands, and feet. Once I got going though, I was amazed by the experience. I was in the Bay and watching the sunrise over the water.

Caili Chung Photography
Caili Chung Photography

Also, this is probably TMI, but I’ll admit that I peed in the Bay. It was not a fun time to feel my own urine in my wetsuit and think (with horror) that it would not escape and I would just have to deal with that sloshing for the rest of the swim. Luckily, that was not the case.



Escape from Alcatraz

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