Courtesy of Jacqueline McClelland, Alcatraz Island, San Francisco Bay, California.

I escaped,” reported Jacqueline McClelland who completed her first visit to California and a swim from Alcatraz Island to the Dolphin Club in San Francisco Bay, California.

It was great fun, a privilege and an amazing experience to jump off the boat in choppy waters with some of the greatest open water swimmers in the world including Lewis Pugh, Ross Edgley, Sal Minty-Gravett, Ram Barkai, Samantha Whelpton, Ryan Utsumi, Evan Morrison, Jaimie Monahan, Ger Kennedy, Ger Devin, Amy Appelhans Gubser, Steve Walker, Kim Rutherford, Michelle Macy, Patrick O Malley, Angel More, Pat Gallant-Charette, Adrian Sarchet, Antonio Argüelles, Tom Linthicum, Alice Ma, Vladimir Mravec, Shelley Taylor-Smith and Robin Rasmussen Rose at the 2018 Open Water Summit.

I also met Gary Emich who had made over 1,000 Alcatraz crossings [so] I was slightly apprehensive about making my first.

The energy was ecstatic. The calming presence of channel and ice swimmer Samantha Whelpton and Ice Sevens queen Jaimie Monahan, standing in a heat huddle with channel swimmers Adrian Sarchet, James Harrison and the Irish craic and banter from Ger Devin and Ger Kennedy shook away any pre-swim nerves.

At the swim safety briefing given by Ryan Utsumi, Quinn Fitzgerald advised, “Take a moment, stop, have a look left right and straight ahead – take it all in. What a wonderful sight to see. No standing still though, just like the busyness of the city ahead as the tide carried us left we were quickly back to work.

With Ger Kennedy and kayak support Amy Gubser both allowed me a great line and an opportunity to relax and enjoy the swim.

I was greeted by Rainie Pierce and Sal-Minty Gravett as we arrived at the Aquatic Park opening with miles of smiles and a leisurely swim to the finish where the guy with the dolphin hat welcomed us.

The facilities available at both Dolphin Rowing club and South End Rowing Club are great with friendly people, always a cuppa and a snack from the kitchen, swim, bike, run, gym, handball and rowing facilities all available if your lucky to be there with Steve Walker or Patrick O’ Malley Daly, Andrew McLaughlin, and John Simms – you will be fortunate to get a naggin’ of Irish whiskey in the sauna after this 14°C swim.

This is a 100% top of the list – recommended for any open water swimmer heading to San Francisco and include it for WOWSA 2019.

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