Swimming with the Fast Kids - Excerpts from my Diary

The Fast Kids - Photo by Miguel

Sometimes I swim with my pod, the Peninsula Cove Chasers. Other times, I go on my own or join pods like the Sunrisers, who swim at 6:00 a.m., or the Alcatraz Swim Society, the nicest ASSes anywhere. Although they swim too fast for me, the Night Train swimmers can turn ebbs into floods and floods into ebbs. Many other pods have formed at the South End. These include the B Team, Otters, North Beach Dads, Pod 5Sea Nymphs, Nadadores Locos and the Irish. I see ALL pods as the anti-cliques – people sharing their passion for open water adventure.  
And then there’s the early morning Friday Fast Kids. When they read this article, they will learn, for the first time, I think of them as the Fast Kids. While this story takes liberties and exaggerates maybe just a bit, make no mistake about it, the Fast Kids are some of the nicest, most welcoming swimmers, even if they are way too fast! After they read my diary, I hope things dont change.
Please enjoy a glimpse into my world of pod hopping, pure joy and endless laughter at the South End as you peruse these excerpts from my journal.
The Cove Chasers swam with the speedy Irish contingent. Actually, Vanessa and Tim swam with them. I got dropped.

The Irish sporting their speedy caps
The Night Train swimmers moved too quickly for my camera to focus and get a clear picture. They swam faster into the current than I swam with the current.
Successful Cove Chaser breakfast at the Blue Mermaid after a great swim with rough conditions in the wind and chop.
Those darn Fast Kids all made it to the Creakers. The Cove Chasers attempted an outside-outside before swimming in place for a few minutes at the elbow. Water was 53-55F and very brown/dirty.
The Cove Chasers battled the massive ebb. Given the very low tide, I walked to the creekers on the inside while trying to keep up with the Fast Kids. No joy. Very fast float back on the outside with not much swimming required. 

In the sauna, the Irish offered advice from their Bay Bridge test swim: get in the f#@!ing water and just swim.

The Cove Chasers swam through the gap. Lots of swimmer traffic on West Main Street (route to Ft. Mason). On the return to the cove, the Fast Kids approached us at high speed. I headed for shore and hid behind some swells to avoid an awkward encounter.

Cove Chasers lined up and ready to swim!

This morning's swim raised more questions than answers:
  • Did anyone see the Fast Kids this morning? 
  • Where was the beer that wasn't in the sauna?
  • What happened to the Balclutha? 
  • Who took the buoy at the opening?
  • Where were the Cove Chasers? 
I had to go it alone.
The Cove Chasers descended the stairs to arrive at the beach at 6:01 a.m. only to find the Fast Kids waiting for us. Yup, we had to face them on the beach, before the swim, armed with only our caps, goggles and suits - our earplugs previously secured in the appropriate body cavities.
Fortunately, the Fast Kids were smaller in numbers than usual. We said hello and asked what happened to the rest of the Fast Kids. They didn't know.
While they laughed and chatted, we snuck in the water, ahead of them, hoping to beat them out to the Creakers. It wasn't meant to be. Perhaps they knew they lacked the critical mass to swim over the top of us, or they just didn't notice us or even care, they went wide heading out to the Creakers while we stayed tight to the breakwater into the ebb.
We never saw them again.
Great conditions! The Cove Chasers snuck in the water as the Fast Kids laughed - presumably at us - and joked. We then made our way around the cove, avoiding East Main Street (the outside seawall to the Creakers) where the Fast Kids would eventually congregate. The huge winter ebb river returned across the cove, creating a swirling challenge heading east to the opening from the Wedding Cake.
We expected a strong ebb, so the Sunrisers and I went clockwise around the cove. We extended the swim to view the GGB. Much to our surprise, a cruise ship obstructed the Golden Gate Bridge. The ship's light glowed and illuminated the bay. I returned to the beach swimming sidestroke so I could appreciate the ship's magnificence as it passed by the opening.

An occasional Fast Kid, being of superhuman abilities, took on the ebb in its full glory. Much to his surprise, it was slack for his outside-inside swim. He seemed to be laughing as he returned to the locker room and sauna.
Sunrisers on the Beach. Photo by Robert Cumins
For the Cove Chasers who were ill, slept poorly, or otherwise incapacitated: it was a miserable swim. Dark, cold, windy, ripping flood through the cove. You made the right call staying home. Please read no further.
For Cove Chasers who chose not to swim, went to work, or just flaked, this was probably the BEST. SWIM. EVER!  We swam with the Sunrisers. After the ritual primal screams as the chilly waters first grabbed hold of us, we fought our way to the flag, and then through the goalposts crabbing against the fierce flood. After hugging the pier and crashing into one another under cover of darkness, we regrouped outside the opening to experience the GGB in its full glory. As we swam back to the dock, the flood grabbed hold again and pressed us toward the Eppleton Hall and Thayer. An occasional Fast Kid swam an outside-inside not noticing much of the flood if any at all. There was laughter on the beach, both before and after the swim - the joy of camaraderie and of equals having taken on an adventure and succeeding together.
The morning was highlighted by Reid humbly recounting his crushing dominating EFAT Dolphin defeat. I would share more details, but the conversation was held in the sauna, and you all know the rules.

Sunrisers provide a glimpse into the locker room

The Cove Chasers left the beach under cover of darkness. Some rode the flood to the Creakers and the rest us dug in and started crabbing towards Ft. Mason. Only one strong swimmer completed an RTFM.
Next time, I'm going to the Creakers in a flood. I need to overcome the fear of swimming with the flood for the first half of the swim.

Elated Cove Chasers - Survived a Fast Kid Encounter?

First, swim from Pier 39 to Alcatraz with the ASSes. Flat waters and a strong ebb made for a fast 24-minute crossing.
ASSes regroup mid-channel. Photo by Sarah Roberts
When we left the club, a delivery truck pulled up to the door. Knowing the sauna parts were scheduled for delivery, we greeted the driver and opened the door to let him in. We quickly learned he was delivering toilet paper. Given the choice between the sauna and TP, I choose the latter.
ASSes 999th Crossing for Gary and Stevie Ray. Photo by Lu Al
By the time we reached the opening, I had forgotten about the Fast Kids. Make no mistake, they showed up. They entered the locker room together, laughing as usual. It's not like they greeted us by name, but they did look over in our general direction. Feeling a bit more confident than usual, we followed them down to the beach. They assembled at the center of the beach; we cautiously stayed to the right. We snuck in the water, hoping to avoid any incidents.
Hope was not enough. It was still a bit dark on the water when it happened. Right in front of the Jacuzzi, without any witnesses, one of the Fast Kids caught me and splashed me. Still shaking, I put my face back in the water and summoned all my courage to soldier on. The rest of the pod was waiting at the opening. Seeing their joyful expressions was enough to put me at ease and allow me to bury the memory of what had just happened. Before heading back to the beach, we chatted with the Commish and a Fast Kid still recovering from injury, technically not a current Fast Kid.
November 18, 2017

We WON the Tri by two points!
Everyone showed up rowers, runners, and swimmers. Piloting a RIB gave me a front-row seat to admire and be proud of our Fast Kids and all the other pods. Everyone was my friend today. Let’s see what happens next Friday when the Fast Kids return to the beach.

The Plaque returning to its rightful home


  1. As a sometimes Friday morning swimmer, most of whom are on Simon's masters team, there's actually a pretty big range, so here's some clarifucation. The lanes at North Bay go from shallow (slow) to deep (fast). As a lane 6 swimmer, this puts me 2/3 if the way down the pool, whereas Van, Justin, Stephen, are lane 12 swimmers, the "Deep Enders". There are my lanemates, Jack, Hilary, and Guy (who rarely swims in a pool but still counts), so we pod up. There's Mark and Emily, Alyssa, and a bunch of near and sometimes deep Ender's,, whom I can swim with unless they turn the dial up (their dial goes higher). Then when it's warm out you've got the 'no rest swimmers', like Andrea, who takes 5 sec max between sets. And then there's Kim and Simon, who usually have a huge group that seems to mosey around the cove, cackling away, like a moving coffee clatch. Subgroups within subgroups.


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