Swim Report: Candlestick Point to Aquatic Park

Candlestick to Aquatic Park is the longest swim offered on the South End Rowing Club’s calendar, coming in just a hair under 10 miles by the shortest swimmable route. Due to the current assist, it swims more like a 10K for faster swimmers, or ~8K for slower swimmers.

(Assistive currents benefit slower swimmers more than faster swimmers - consider the relatively narrow range of finish times for, e.g., the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, compared to, e.g., an English Channel swim).

I’ve written about this swim before, from the perspective of a support kayaker.

After a several months-long period of swim-shiftlessness, I scrawled my name on the sign-up sheet, inspiring a two-week burst of training. Proving once again that nothing happens without goals!

Anyway, the Candlestick Swim.

5-minute intervals

GPS track (5 min per trackpoint)

Starting from a sandy beach in front of the old stadium site (as I recall, this swim took place in the midst of the demolition), you enter the water gingerly, hoping not to disturb the biohazardous sludge on the bottom. Swim about a mile east through slack water until you find the current. On left breaths there’s a large crane on Hunters Point that seems never to move, but be patient - it will soon enough.

Once past the long piers off the end of Hunters Point, angle north. You can’t see the Bay Bridge quite yet, but when you do, aim for the midpoint between the alpha and beta towers. You’re an hour, hour-and-a-half past slack now, the ebb is growing, growing. As the shoreline bows in toward the Dogpatch, you may think you’re moving further into the middle of the Bay, but you’re not really. Just keep calm and head toward that midpoint.

Some big ships may pass by on your right.

The current meanwhile is carrying you with magnificent swiftness. Why even bother swimming? To keep warm, mostly. (The water was 56F on May 23, 2015).

When you finally reach the Bay Bridge, do a little backstroke. Because the whole point of backstroke is to look at bridges. Relax a little bit - you’re almost home. Just another 3 miles or so, 45 minutes or so.

under bay bridge

With Cathy, under the Bay Bridge.

Now you’re in familiar territory. Watch as the Ferry Building, Pier 7, Pier 39 roll by on the left. And straight ahead, the glorious J.O.B.

The ebb is abating, as it inevitably does, and you may actually have to swim the last bit - along the breakwater, into the Opening, and through the Cove.

To the sauna, then! You’ve earned it.


9.9 miles in 2 hours, 42 minutes.