View Full Version : 2006 FINA World Champs - Open Water Issues

February 27th, 2006, 03:21 PM
I participate in a lot of open water swims here on the east coast but have never swam in the ocean on the west side of the country. I sent in a bunch of questions to the FINA World Champ Master website and never got a response (there is an excerpt from the email below). I'm hoping anyone who has had experience swimming in the San Francisco Bay could give me their advice. If anyone running this event could also give me any feedback that would be great.

"Open Water Issues....... I am concerned about the shark population in San Francisco bay. I am an open water swimmer and would like to "attempt" alcatraz and the 3k swim. What measures if any will there be taken concerning sharks? I'm very comfortable with the ocean on the east coast but have never swam on the "west side". I'm I being silly? Once I heard there were seals in the bay I got nervous because that's what sharks eat.... or so I'm told. Some people also told me that people go to "watch" the sharks in San Francisco bay. Please, please tell me I'm being silly."

February 27th, 2006, 04:13 PM
I swam the Alcatraz Sharkfest last july. This is my only experience inf SF Bay.

From what the locals told me and what I read, fresh water comes into the bay twice daily. Apparently sharks do not like this and stay out of the bay. I certainly didn't see any!

Being from the midwest, most of my open water swimming is in lakes. I had a great time at this swim and will probably do it again.

Sabretooth Tiger
February 27th, 2006, 06:33 PM
Per your request: "You're being silly."

There are many of us who do open water swims regularly here on the left coast, in both competition and training . . . not to mention surfing year round.

The only swimmer that I am aware of who ran into shark problems was on the central coast a couple of years ago. She was swimming in a wetsuit, without other humans, in the middle of a seal group . . . or as the sharks call them . . . "food."

So as long as you're not swimming with a horde of seals at dusk or dawn (feeding time) you should have no worries. I've seen sharks a few times in my 30+ years of ocean play, but we've managed to keep our distance.

Have fun and don't sweat it . . . there are sharks in the east coast too. The ONLY way to guarantee 100% safety from sharks is to not go in the water in the first place.


February 27th, 2006, 07:16 PM
There is a discussion starting 10-11 05 that you may want to read. Title is something like 9 year-old Boy Swims Alcatraz

Gail Roper
February 27th, 2006, 08:27 PM
There are several species of sharks in San Francisco Bay, including Leopard, 7-Gill, and Smoothhounds. All of these are harmless. I don't think there has ever been a shark attack inside the Golden Gate Bridge but there was a fatal attack just outside the bridge at Baker Beach.

February 28th, 2006, 01:55 AM
Gail has worked for the State fisheries department and is very familiar with the fishes on the California Coast.

I think that fatal attack at Baker Beach occured in 1960. Baker Beach is few miles away and is part of the Pacific - not the bay.


March 2nd, 2006, 03:14 PM
Obviously everyone has their own comfort level on these things but they are both very doable swims. For Alcatraz, there are probably at least 1,000 swimmers who do that swim every year between the different swims from Alcatraz. I've never heard of anyone having any problem except with the challenging conditions. Which are doable for most reasonably competent swimmers unless you are unlucky in the schedule of the swim(i.e., the currents are stronger than expected or heavy wind chop of something like that).

The 3k swim should be different. While its a longer swim, my understanding is that Alameda is more sheltered and usually a little warmer. I would suggest entering both, and taking them one day at a time. If you have a good experience in the 3K swim, give Alcatraz a shot. If you find it more challenging than you enjoy, go hike the redwoods instead.

There are several swimmers in SF, Gary Emich and Pedro Ordones who have both done the Alcatraz swim several hundred times and obviously they haven't run into any dangerous marine life.

June 30th, 2006, 07:04 AM
Any news about an Alcatraz-SF swim that was going to happen during the Worlds?


June 30th, 2006, 02:38 PM
Go to: http://www.2006finamasters.org/ then click on FINA Tours on the left side of the page. Tour 14 is the Alcatraz swim. It list:

* Bus transportation to San Francisco
* Bay cruise to Alcatraz aboard the Signature flagship yacht San Francisco Spirit
* Bottled water, juice, coffee, and Power Bars on board
* Participant will be dropped off at Alcatraz Island to swim back to shore
* Receive "I Swam 2006 FINA Alcatraz swim" t-shirt

To get more information on any tour or to purchase call 415-777-2288 or, if you are within the US, toll free at 888-868-7788. Please reference the tour package you are interested in and someone will get back to you with more information.

There are 107 swimmers signed up so far.

July 1st, 2006, 02:44 AM
thank you barryf!!

('scuse me - the link for fina tours is on the RIGHT side of the page. found it!! :cool: )

one more question - I can't find the price?

sorry - another question...

date and time of the swim? is it a competition, or just a friendly swim?

thanks again!

July 1st, 2006, 10:06 AM
After your first run in with a shark it does make you think. I have only had 3 shark related things happen to me. One in Atlantic a shark nibbled on my big toe and tore at it pretty good. The next at the coral Islands, the Canadian Olympic team were swimming at the beach, we had a gun guard watching us, when he yelled out SHARK even our distance swimmer sprinted out of the water. We stood and saw many a fin. The next one was in Narragansett Rhode Island that one followed me for ten miles.