US Masters Swimming

Mountain View Masters

The Treasure Island to YMCA 1.5 Mile Swim
October 18, 2008

By Mary Leigh Burke

Wow, what a good time!  (Although I must say, the ol’ bod is still not quite recovered from it after 2 days.)

The fun started when I showed up at the hotel I planned to stay at in the city (an indulgence, to avoid having to get up at 3 AM), to find they were overbooked and had no rooms – which is actually GREAT NEWS, because they then get you another room, in a different hotel, for free!  So instead of 200 bucks, I stayed in SF for free.  These hotel people kept apologizing and I kept laughing!

2007 event photoThe event was awesome, just amazing.  The Embarcadero Y is luxurious and they provided tons of coffee, fruit, and muffins to the some-250 swimmers.  There was a detailed briefing about what to expect (cold water, major currents, boats following you to make sure you don’t drown), and then we took a special ferry out to Treasure Island (one of the ferry guys said to me “You got more balls than me”, very encouraging.)  It was a beautiful ride.  A female cop went by in a police boat, stuck her hand in the water, and gave an exaggerated shiver, laughing, as she passed the ferry.

The majority went with the wetsuit, but at least 20 or 30 were without, all those folks who train up there.  But as it turned out, the water really didn’t feel all that freezing.  Maybe it was the thermos of hot coffee I carted out there and gulped down just before jumping.

So, there I am, swimming along, enjoying myself, close to last as usual, when after around 30 minutes, one of those inflatable motorboats pulls up alongside me and says “Get in.  We’re relocating you.”  Two guys were in there already, looking VERY disgruntled.  Turns out, we weren’t making enough headway against the currents and had only gone a short distance toward the shore.  Personally, I saw this boat ride as just another perk – it was gorgeous out there seeing it from yet another perspective, I wasn’t at all tired, and they let us jump back in after a few minutes ride past the worst of the current.  But the guys obviously saw it differently!

After about another hour or so, I was approaching the finish, still not tired, not wanting to get out.  It was just so much fun to be out in San Francisco Bay swimming alongside the Bay Bridge.  Periodically, I turned on my back and just kicked for a while to enjoy the sky and the sun coming out over the water, or eat a little Gu like an otter. ( I hear there were seals, too, but unfortunately, I missed them.)

Finally I had to get out, amid rows of cheering spectators and tourists, and walk with the other late finishers to the Y, barefoot and euphoric.  The Y has a huge hot tub, where a lot of us spent the next hour reminiscing and talking about other such events (Alcatraz, here I come!).

Strangely, I was never the least bit tired, I even went out to lunch with a friend afterward - until I got back home.  At that point, I crashed, big time, worse than any triathlon or ski event I’ve done in years.  Monday was a day of “recovery flu”, and even today I’m not quite back to normal - my mid-back is having minor muscle spasms and I’m gulping Ibuprofen as we speak.  It was hugely worth it, though, and I’ll for sure make this an annual event.  I hope to persuade some Masters buddies to join me next year.