The Index, The Gap, and The Fast Kids

Adventure beckons us to swim through the Farnworth Gap


The swim index dropped to 115. Ok, so maybe only the air temperature dropped, but the water remained a 'toasty' 60ºF. A prevailing high-pressure system kept the San Francisco Bay Area air temperatures unseasonably warm.

What’s the swim index, and who cares? 

The answer to the second question: pretty much no-one. 

And for those who do care… The swim index (SI) is the sum of the air and water temperatures. I don't know who coined the term. Generally speaking, when the SI drops to double digits, even the heartiest of the group likely consider the experience chilling. My lowest SI: 88 with 48ºF water and 40ºF air. Notable from the 88 SI experience: cold shoulders and back.

The Cove Chasers swam a Round Trip Gas House. Due to the strong currents, we elected to swim through the Farnsworth Gap where the San Francisco Municipal Pier connects to Aquatic Park's solid land. Traversing the gap creates unlimited opportunities for impalement, scrapes, scars, mental panic, and actual panic. With high tides, gappers only risk being thrown into barnacle-covered pylons with waves and water surges. However, when the tide is lower, swimmers are more likely to contact barnacle covered rocks and other unseen detritus. With really low tides, swimmers have been known to walk through the gap. For today's swim, the low tide left some of the swimmers, including me, scathed but not deterred.

Carefully navigating the Farnsworth Gap. Avoid when the water is below the bottom of the wire

Much to our surprise, the Fast Kids gapped it as well. While they were small in number yet fast in speed, they must have heard the Cove Chasers were gapping it in the dark. In their feeble attempt not to be outdone by our group, they not only went through the gap, but they also did a reverse Magical Mystery Tour in the dark. The Magical Mystery Tour (MMT) requires swimmers to pass underneath three 75' wide piers. Similar to the Farnsworth Gap, the MMT covers many hidden underwater dangers only discovered after some blood has been shed.

Swimming Under Muni Pier - ALWAYS keep away from the center!

Swimming through the Gap or the MMT creates 'escape' routes when the strong currents might otherwise prevent swimmers from making progress in the open waters of the San Francisco Bay.

From early reports, a swimmer ahead of us got slightly impaled by some of the well-hidden underwater rebar and pylons. Neither blood nor shark fins were observed in the water. 

How bad could it have been?


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