As the boat pulled away from the dock at precisely 6:30am, talk of less than optimal weather conditions filled the boat; high winds and rough water most certainly lay ahead. With a collective love for swimming in rough water, our decision was to stick to the plan and see how far we could go. Our team of six would rotate in hour long shifts until we reached the Farallon Islands. Whomever was the swimmer in the water upon arriving at the islands would touch the buoy in the cove, turn around, and head back towards the Golden Gate Bridge as our rotation continued. If successful, this would be the first-ever round-trip Farallon Islands swim, covering approximately 60 miles to the islands and back to San Francisco.
Finally positioned at our starting point underneath the Golden Gate Bridge, our first swimmer Patti, jumped into the water at 7am. Watching from the comfort of the boat, I marveled at Patti’s impressive form as she rode the powerful yet calm outgoing ebb tide into the ocean. Another crazy Night Train Swimmers' adventure had officially begun, and there was no turning back. Within minutes of Patti’s jump, Mother Nature provided us with the most spectacular invitation: a glorious rainbow emerged as the most ornate and remarkable gateway into the Pacific. I could not help but inquire the significance of the rainbow and very quickly determined this was not just a sign, but an official pledge from Mother Nature of a safe passage. With my turn to jump in next, I found some comfort in knowing we were protected.
Though my nerves were slightly subdued thanks to the calming effects of the anti-seasickness patch, and now the rainbow, I could not help but fidget anxiously. For me, that first jump in the water for any swim is always the most nerve-wracking, and tremendously exciting. With well over 30 minutes until my shift, and eager to channel my nervous energy, I moved downstairs towards the bow of the boat to get ready. This was something I needed to do alone, for fear of scaring my teammates. Already suited up in my swimsuit, I kept my layers on to stay warm. With water temperatures hovering at 55 F degrees (12 C), I wanted to be as warm as possible when I jumped in. Once I located my goggles and earplugs in my meticulously organized swim bag, an important decision still loomed: tinted or clear goggles? I peered through the tiny cabin window and noted Patti motoring along effortlessly. I also observed the sun had made a triumphant return through the grey and ominous clouds. I felt my face come alive with delight and relief: tinted goggles!
For the remaining minutes until I jumped, I sat quietly on the edge of the bunk bed. As my heart thumped through my chest, I questioned my sanity and checked my watch obsessively. With 5 minutes to go, I peeled off my warm jacket, pants, wool socks and Ugg boots. Once outside, I stepped over the stern of the boat and stood on the swim platform. As the cool water lapped invitingly at my feet, I made a last minute attempt to calm my nerves. Taking a few deep breaths, I waited patiently for instruction. Seconds later my teammates indicated to Patti that her hour long shift had concluded. “Boat in neutral” yelled Vito from the helm. “Neutral” confirmed David. Patti swam towards the boat. “Ok, Kim. Time to jump.”