It’s coming down to D-day. Less than two weeks! This past weekend, in final preps for our journey, I left the loving comfort of my family and my new Denver home and headed west to the land of fruit and nuts. The San Francisco Bay is a phenomenal training ground for the Channel. The water temps are just a bit colder than the Channel (55 degrees F), so they are a great acclimatization tool. The water conditions in the Aquatic Park did a good job of simulating the prevalent conditions in the Channel as far as chop and currents. Outside of the breakwaters proved quite rough, depending on the time of day. Another benefit of these training grounds is the Dolphin Club. Neal found this open-water-swimming jewel last year, but this was my first time experiencing it. They boast over 1000 members, and the camaraderie and enthusiasm amongst this eclectic group of swimmers is fantastic. They are also a wealth of information for those of us aspiring to swim the English Channel. They have several members who have made the crossing, and a few more that are currently training for it. Special thanks to Amber Rhett and Reuben Hechanova for all of their advice.
I was there for less than 48 hours, and Neal and I spent a good deal of that time training. We got in two decent swims on Saturday, and then we both participated in an open-water “race” put on by the Dolphin Club. We had to check in for the race by 6:00, which meant that the alarm clock went off at about 4:30! We took a boat from the club to the San Francisco Bay bridge, and once dropped off, it was an all-out sprint back to the club. The front group was ultra-competitive, with the winning swimmer completing the 2 ½ mile course in under 40 minutes (current assisted). Neal wasn’t too far behind at around 45 minutes, and I straggled in about 3-4 minutes after that. Many thanks to all of the volunteers who rowed beside us making this event as safe and as fun as possible.
We took a few minutes to bring our core temperatures back up to human levels, and then bee-lined for the airport. It was a fast and furious weekend, but all-in-all a great time!