In this guest blog post, Ambassador Michelle Rogalski share her experience swimming roughly Alcatraz, the renowned prison in mountain Francisco, California during a global pandemic and also a record-breaking wildfire season.

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You might not see a thing. Ns inhaled a small whiff of smoke through every breath. Alcatraz only existed as a tiny black smudge top top the horizon, yet i was claimed to swim roughly the island in an hour. The fog to be thick and also the wildfires blazed just a couple of miles south of mountain Francisco. Nothing could have prepared me because that this.

Open water swimmers train to be all set for any feasible scenario, yet how can you train because that swimming through smoke around an notorious prison during a worldwide pandemic? to be today’s conditions similar to as soon as those prisoners allegedly escaped from Alcatraz much more than 50 years ago? This to be a scenario just seen in movies.

A Bucket list Swim


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Safety is constantly paramount; i did not want to stray too far from the group. Getting lost in the fog was a possibility, therefore I set a compass come my watch face. I wore a wetsuit, because staying heat would be especially important if we gained lost. Rate was no much longer the focus since it was an ext important to swim v a buddy, near the assistance boats, v the smoke and also fog-filled haze.

I scrolled under to the open up water setting in on my watch, and was off. This was certainly one the those swims you desire to look ago on, not just to analysis but likewise to prove it actually happened! around thirteen minutes right into the swim, kayakers began shouting. We necessary to obtain out of the way for the ship to happen through. Us were all corralled ~ above a boat; cargo ships do not protect against for swimmers! at this time, i really appreciated the long sleeves of my wetsuit barricading the wind aboard the boat. Ns am still wondering how the two people who swam skin didn’t freeze.

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We went back to the water and continued our quest. I uncovered myself sticking approximately one particular kayaker who guided me come the renowned green buoy, approximately the island, and back to mountain Francisco. Swimming on the east side that the island was reasonably easy with the island blocking most of the current, offering the an initial opportunity so much to really check out Alcatraz. Don’t forget to enjoy the see along the way!

Battling the Current

Once previous the island, the current immediately started pulling in one direction far from the finish line. This is why castle tell you to obtain as close to the island as possible before passing it. By the time I reached shore, i was lot farther eastern than expected, and also had to swim versus the existing to finish. Sighting only steers girlfriend in the appropriate direction once you have the right to actually see the skyline! I started sprinting as quickly as I could make the end the entrance to Swimmer’s Cove.

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I could hear cheers at the complete line. As the tide helped carry me right into shore, another form of wave overcame me. The magnitude of how much love and support I obtained over the past few weeks was overwhelming, engulfing me in the moment. We did it! us all swam roughly Alcatraz throughout a worldwide pandemic, with the smoke and also fog. In my gut ns knew this swim would certainly happen. All the threats paid off; us made our dreams come true.

Diving right into Cold Water Swimming

I am progressively taking baby steps, warming as much as cold water, which consisted of a mini Ambassador cultivate session with Catherine Breed, human being record holder for swim the size of Lake Tahoe. We did simple swim in the Aquatic Cove the day after the event, no wetsuits. I couldn’t have actually worn a wetsuit even if I had actually wanted to because my neck to be rubbed life from the day before. Apparently one class of human body glide is not sufficient in salt water!

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Nonetheless, Catherine shared some wise words the advice, advising to simply go for it and also pursue her dreams. Now, ns am draw close cold water with a completely different attitude.

Just thinking around swimming approximately Alcatraz still sends chills down my spine. The is contempt terrifying, however that is likewise the allure. Selecting to confront one’s fear will cause the greatest feasible growth. Hesitating to follow her dreams because of any sort of fear leads come regret. Being cold is scary to me, to be quite honest. The Pacific s is no joke either!

I am ultimately learning that what is in my own head is the greatest obstacle. Dominating your fears gives you the power ago and opens up the mind to think bigger, for sure presenting opportunities along the method if you continue to apply yourself.

The acting Clears

Visibility boosted the work of ours departure. For the very first time, you can see the golden Gate Bridge and Angel Island indigenous the cove. This particular day was the first day that the following phase readjust for reopening with the coronavirus and things simply felt a little much more serene and also carefree. We had actually picked one of the strangest time in history to visit mountain Francisco, however we do the ideal of the trip, devouring delicious food and touring the city by scooter. We saw China Town and also hung the end on the beach finding sand dollars.

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We moved through the doubt and difficulties follow me the way and made dreams come true. In the end, we just regret the chances we no take. If you have passion and also commit to your dreams in every little thing you do, anything is possible. Ns am happy come announce that my dreams are leading me come my following chapter in life, the chance to it is in my regional YMCA’s Aquatics Coordinator. Believe in her dream and make the happen!

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