Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Swim Across America with Judy!

PHEW! Judy has saved lives by swimming, and now saved me from needing to come up with a blog topic for today. I'm so slammed at my normal job that I can barely get to the pool, let alone write about it. I promise to be better after this week. Until then, here is the great story of Judy and John and Nancy and tons of other MM studs that got out to swim on Saturday! Guest post by Judy:

Swim Across America, We made waves in San Francisco Bay to fight cancer! 2009

At 5 am I drove to the Edgewood Road Park and Ride to meet Menlo Master Eva Gottstein. We loaded the gear into her tiny classic car and drove up to San Francisco. Eva and her husband are expecting their first child and were married just about one year ago at Crissy Field, she decided that perhaps the Bay Swim would need to wait a year. Eva has a stuffed animal company called Sigikid, to support Swim Across America she is donating 50% of the proceeds from their Guardian Angel product line. This will continue through December.

We arrived at Crissy Field shortly before 6 and it was a flurry of activity. All the usual suspects were there and it seemed like countless volunteers as well. I tried to make myself useful; I had a great time hanging banners in the dark and greeting friends and teammates. Some of my students from the Los Altos High School Interact Club showed up as volunteers. This year I was swimming on my friend Susan’s team; Team Susan Survives. There were 33 of us that registered to swim for Susan who is recovering from very major surgery to treat her 3rd cancer.

The full moon was hanging over the water, just beyond the Golden Gate Bridge; it was absolutely gorgeous. As the sun came up we noticed that the wind and water were both very calm…. Ah… relief, last year we had very challenging conditions. (One can be so easily fooled!)

More teammates showed up at the pier. Several Menlo Masters, John Goldman, Mike Dorsey, Paul Laustsen, Chris Kellerman, Nancy Prouty, Anne Young, Louise Feeley and her husband’s young cousin Danny, Stephanie Couch, Joan Caldwell and my colleague Ryan Carter were all swimming for Susan, although most of them had never met her! Menlo Master Diana Spieker and her family were also there, they formed Team Poohstrong to honor the memory of a dear friend.

We boarded the ship and started our journey to the Golden Gate. There were seals frolicking in the waves, the sun was shining and it still seemed like gentle surf. Janel Jorgenson, executive director of Swim Across America made a short speech and opened the mike. We did some group bonding, Susan spoke a little and so did a few others. Gary Emich, Susan’s co-event director gave us swim instructions and we jumped into the San Francisco Bay about 100 yards east of the South Tower of the Golden Gate Bridge. Did I say gentle surf?

At first I thought the waves were from the boats, we were completely surrounded by support craft… but as I started swimming I noticed that we had surf as big as last year. One of the kayakers was yelling…. Follow the lead boat, follow the lead boat… what he didn’t know is that most of us were too low in the water to see the lead boat. OK, nothing left to do except enjoy the view, reflect on why I was swimming and, oh yeah, swim.

The good news, again I did the swim without a wetsuit, this year the water temperature was almost 10 degrees warmer at 62 degrees. (For those of you that think that’s balmy, our competition pool is heated to 81 and our instructional pool is heated to 86 degrees.) I was comfortable for the whole swim. At one point I saw John Goldman and we chatted briefly. I said I would follow him and then had a brief chat with Janel and John was gone. We remarked on the surf and she told me that lots of swimmers were being picked up by support craft. Some time later I looked up to sight and there was a Zodiac with one of my teammates. They were encouraging me to climb in…. climb in? I wanted to swim and kept going. Sometime after that I was told that I was off course and needed to be repositioned a kayaker was there who said that he would stay with me until I was picked up…. I didn’t want to get picked up. John, the kayaker said ok he would who stay with me for the duration of the swim. All of a sudden there was a second kayaker and I looked it was Barbara a masters swimmer! The two of them kept me between the kayaks and guided me to shore. I am very grateful for their kindness. Although it was not an easy swim, I still enjoyed it! I was one of the last people in… I thought it was a pretty tough swim. Herb and my friends greeted me on the beach. We ate some chowder and enjoyed the rest of the day!

With your help when everything is said and done Swim Across America will have raised close to $300,000. This is 1.5 times what we raised last year. The money goes to USCF Children’s Survivorship Clinic and Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute. Thank you for your support and your WARM wishes!

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