Popular culture would have you believe that swimming from Alcatraz is a hypothermic journey from which you’re lucky to escape. But the reality is ... exactly that. (As a city, we’re obligated to view Alcatraz swims as one of the most perilous acts in sports, just under wingsuit flying.) Truth is, we don’t really know what goes on in those dark, dangerous waters — the closest we’ve come to swimming it ourselves is screaming, “What is this? Santa Monica?” to everyone at Crissy Field. At today’s Alcatraz Challenge, we’ll have a lot of screaming to do, as scores of swimmers jump off ferries near the old prison and swim shoreward for their very lives. The course description makes the event sound even more daunting than we’d thought. Here’s what it says about the strong currents: “Strong means that if you jumped off the ferry and did nothing but float you would be swept three miles west to the Golden Gate Bridge within an hour.” That’ll scare our relatives in the Midwest.
Mon., May 28, 8 a.m., 2012