This swim was the last one that I (Michael) will be kayak safety fleet coordinator for. It was a bittersweet moment, as it really is a great cause to support and kayakers really do make a huge difference here.
This year’s swim had a much earlier start than any other swim in memory, at 0800 for the 4.4 mile and 0815 for the 1 mile (that, I won’t miss). That severely limited the number of folks who parked at the Bay Bridge Marina and paddled across before the race, to three hardy kayakers. They even had to dodge a cruise ship coming in before the Bay was closed there.
About 20 kayakers supported the 4.4 mile race from Sandy Point, and about 10 supported the 1 mile race (many of whom supported the tail end of the 4.4). The weather was pretty good, although the “5 mph with gusts to 10-15 mph” forecast was more like “10-15mph gusts with occasional calm of 5 mph.” With the stronger than expected (at least psychologically so) current, and the cooler than usual (~ 70F) water temperatures, that did create some challenging conditions for both kayaker and swimmer alike.
This year’s 4.4 mile swimmer entrance was different too, in that they let 10 swimmers go every 10 seconds. This new technique (which is being adopted everywhere) had the roughly 500 swimmers that enter the water in less than 10 minutes. There was definitely a reduction in the Swimmer Cuisinart Syndrome from before, which had dozens to hundreds of arms and legs moving in close proximity. The faster swimmers self-seeded up front, so there was less going over slower swimmers, but that did also spread them out a bit more. The estimate of a two mile gap between fastest and slowest swimmers is probably close enough to reality to go with it.
Special thanks go to all of the kayakers who gave all of us Sandy Point launches a ride back to our cars (sometimes with our kayaks), as not many of us really felt like paddling back across after the race, especially as the winds were still picking up. It was great to see all that community spirit.
The LinMark Results say the fastest non-wetsuit 4.4 mile swimmer out of 131 in that category who finished did so in 1h35m. This was slightly faster than the fastest out of 354 wetsuit 4.4-miler (1h39m) swimmer. About two dozen had to be pulled. There were 126 non-wetsuit 1-milers and 138 wetsuit 1-milers, with about a dozen being pulled.
Some pictures taken by kayakers are available at the following: