Kylie, Michael, Rachael and I joined an organised group of 30 swimmers to make this cold-water loop around the most notorious prison island in the world.
After a cold, blustery wait at the San Francis Yacht club, we were all keen to set off across the bay. We were told to swim out hard and head directly north, towards Angel Island, in order to go in the easterly direction we were aiming for. The current was running fast and were washed sideways at an amazing pace. At one stage I would say we were swimming over 7 kilometres an hour. We needed to insure we got in behind the island, otherwise the tide would take us across the front of the island and our swim would be over.
It was a blistering pace out and we just scraped past the pole marking the far side of the island. Once in behind the island we had to stay in close to the shore, so as not to be picked up by the fast moving water. It was an eerie but incredible view of the island from so close. The water was relatively calm on this protected side, but as soon as we cleared the shelter of the rock, the current hit us head on like a fire hose. It was a long, hard crabwalk of a swim west to get back to the mainland shore. The water was 14°C and at this stage many were pulled out either due to the cold or from being swept too far off course.
Mike and Rach sped ahead of the pack while Kylie waited for me refusing all invitations to ‘save herself and leave me’. Michael went on to finish second with Rachael not far behind. Kylie and I made it back to the finishing location, in Aquatic Cove, in a respectable time.
Everyone asks me whether I think it was possible for the three prison escapees to have survived their breakout in 1962. I’d like to think they did.
Throughout our stay in San Fransisco were enjoyed the wonderful hospitality of our great comrades and personal friends in the Longshoremen's union, the ILWU. Secretary Treasurer, Willie Adams, looked after us and showcased the proud union history in the iconic city. The murder of working men and women and subsequent ILWU struggle paved the way for Dockworkers workers dignity and safety.