Hello friends.. it’s been too long! Months actually.. sorry about that.
It’s been a year since my last swim in the Bay and my swimming is DEFINITELY not anywhere near my swimming shape that I was in last year so I chose to do the shorter distance.
Swim Across America is an organization that holds swims across the country to fundraise of cancer. Each swim focuses on a particular researcher or cause in the area — and Swim Across America San Francisco has its beneficiaries at Benioff Children’s Hospital — aka the UCSF Pediatric hospital and two programs within the pediatric oncology department. Besides the fact that this is where I work, I think its a worthy cause.
Honestly, I often don’t realize how worthy of a cause it is until this swim — which is why I feel so privileged to be a part of it.
Let me give you the play by play.
Registration — very early… Sunday morning fun of course! I think registration opens at 5 AM and last year I went right when it started, this year I was a bit later which meant a bit more of a wait. They have a tent setup at Little Marina Park (which is where you end). This year they had tracking ?thingies that strapped to your ankles for safety.
You get a wristband for entrance to the tent after the swim, a bag so that you can leave the things you shed on the boat that will get delivered back to you as well.
From there, you load onto some traditional SF trolleys and take a ride through the streets of San Francisco in the quiet hours of the morning.
Here’s a quick peek at the Golden Gate in the slighty foggy/cloudy morning.
When you arrive, it’s kind of like things are just on autopilot. We all shuffle on the boat, half awake but then the excitement starts to build. There’s food and coffee and opportunities to sign and wear some temporary tattoos.
Then, as we get closer to the Golden Gate, we meet up for a safety briefing on the first floor of the boat. Everyone says this is their favorite part — and its true. Now having done this twice, THIS is why I signed up again — nothing to do with getting in the water or doing this crazy swim. After the safety briefing, people share stories about why they are swimming. There are parents of kids actively fighting cancer, people who are remembering those that couldn’t be with them here today, and … well you can imagine. There are waterworks.
Olympians are a big part of the Swim Across America event and I can see why. They really bring the star power and truly are just amazing people. They get to go visit the hospital before the swim and they bring their medals and the kids LOVE it. Recently, for September (which is Childhood Cancer Awareness month), our hospital released a Youtube video to the song ‘Rise Up’.
Check it out here. https://youtu.be/KSQ2y7f717E
After this, we all grab a Gerber daisy and gather around the boat, say quiet prayers and thoughts and shower the water with flowers.
It’s always amazing to be so close to the Golden Gate — such an icon of the city and thinking about the enormity of what we are working together to accomplish is equally amazing. It definitely overshadows the thoughts about what is about to happen next in the swim. You just, do it .. because it’s nothing compared to what the kids go through. It’s nothing compared to what the families go through.
This year, it was definitely more cloudy so didn’t make for as great pictures — but set the mood for me in a way that I didn’t really remember from last year. This is a view looking back at the city (first of all, it’s FAR away.. secondly, those light rays!)
Oh, and… there was a whale sighting as we waited to jump off the boat!
(See the plume?!)
There are plenty of kayaks, stand up paddles, zodiacs, other boats out there to protect and direct us, but it’s always hard to swim in a straight line or sight well. This year wasn’t that different for me — there’s a glare on the water so I had a hard time knowing where to go — it’s easier to see shadows and head towards those. I was sighting for the dome of the Place of the Fine Arts which had me cut in a bit to the west of where I was aiming so I had to get told to go straight a little bit more, but it wasn’t bad. I did the shorter distance (they drop off the main group under the Golden Gate and then motor in a bit and drop off our group). I’m glad I did since I haven’t been swimming that much.
I jumped in quickly to be near the front of the pack (they ask slow swimmers to jump in first understandably) and kind of forgot about the shock of jumping.
(everyone waiting to jump)
Here’s the view of from the boat after the first wave jumped off.. so many small dots of people swimming away.
The first 10 minutes are always just getting yourself adjusted to the water and breathing and moving along in your wet suit .. and about after that I look up and realize I’m swimming in the Bay and have a few moments of awe. I love swimming because it’s my own quiet time in my own head where you just are pulling your arms through the water rhythmically (well… ideally). Those are the moments that some of my patients come to mind (not going to lie.. these tranquil and lovely thoughts usually come between thoughts of ‘why is the shore SO far away still!!!’). I can’t really describe this sensation except that I leave with a renewed sense of doing what I do, a renewed love of life and what it has to offer and gratitude to God for the ways He provides and provisions to each and every human.
If you’re interested in still donating, you can click this link below which will be active for the next few weeks.
Otherwise, enjoy some of these amazing pictures from the shore. Picture credit: Jared
Here you can see the boat!!! This is the boat that we took out and you can see us by the bridge! I think this picture is SO amazing!
Here is the steady stream swimming towards shore. The clouds cleared up and sunny skies were all around!
How on earth did I get found while swimming within the sea of people? No clue — you can also see here that my cap was slipping off — not sure why but it definitely was bothering me near the end!
And here I am at the end (ps.. yes, I wore a full body wetsuit in case you were wondering!)
Thanks so much for those that are still reading. So glad to share with all of you. To those of you who donated… THANK YOU and I hope you know how much of a difference you made!
To those of you who have never heard of this or never have been part of it — think about what you do in your life that might not make a big difference to you, but may make a big difference to someone else. Those things often are the things that give life meaning. Find those things, do them on repeat, and one day, you will know that your days are spent doing enough.