Frequently asked questions by swimmers new to the Bay
What should I bring with me to the Aquatic Park?
Come ready with your wetsuit up to your waist, or fully set and warm clothing on top. Bring a towel and change of clothes, goggles, thick silicone or a hood, earplugs, warm cap and something warm to drink after the swim is nice. A coach will watch over your belongings while you swim. Please do not bring valuables to the practice. If this is your first time, bring signed waiver. This waiver is good for the whole season. You may download the waiver from our website.
What is the water temperature?
November – March: Approx. between 49 – 55 F (9.0 C –13 C.)
March – October: Approx. between 55 -62 F (13 C. -16.5 C.)
Are there sharks in the Bay or in the Cove?
There are no life threatening sharks in the cove, although there are small sharks that are bottom feeders, they are not interested in swimmers. People have been swimming in the bay for decades without incident. The biggest concern is hypothermia.
What are the signs of hypothermia?
Cold, shivering, mental confusion, feeling “high”, suddenly feeling warm and disoriented or paranoid. Sometimes there are signals once you are out of the water that indicate you have gone beyond your limits. Dizziness, nausea, weakness, and mental confusion.
What should I do if I feel hypothermic?
If you feel any of the above signs, get out immediately. If you are not close to shore, tell your pilot to watch you carefully. Once you are out, take off your wet clothes, dry off and wrap yourself in layers of clothes or blankets. Warm up SLOWLY before entering a hot shower or sauna. Remember alcohol does not keep you warm, quite the opposite. You should never swim if you have alcohol in your system.
Is the water dirty?
Runoff after a heavy rain can contaminate the Bay water. Generally, though, the water is clean enough to swim in everyday. The salty taste, lack of clarity due to algae and other marine life, and ocean smell may be off-putting to some. These aspects aren’t dirty, and you will get used to it the way you get used to the chlorine in the pool.
How long will we swim?
Depending in your swimming background, we will have you swim according to your experience. We will have modified workouts for all levels.
I swim in the pool, how will I know when I am ready for open water?
Usually, if you can swim a mile confidently in the pool you are ready for the open water.
What should I eat before I swim?
Eat something warm and easy for you to digest, oatmeal, cream of rice cereal and hot tea are all excellent. Remember before you swim you should be hydrated. Gatorade and Cytomax are excellent sources for electrolyte replenishment, both before and after a swim. Drink these in moderation, you can overdo it and make yourself feel heavy and sick.
Can you watch my stroke?
Yes, if sufficient pilot coverage is available. You may request in advance to have a coaching session during the workout. These private or one to one sessions are $35.00 for the half an hour workout.
What is the difference in pool and open water training?
The tides, currents, slighting, and water temperatures are all factors in developing your skills as an open water swimmer. Wind and rain can also affect the conditions in the Bay. Only experience swimming in the bay can prepare for any eventuality.
What are the distances inside the cove, around the breakwater wall, to the flag and back?
Refer to our workout maps. You can also use resources online.
Are booties ok for swimming?
No, they usually fill up with water, weigh you down and do not keep your feet warm. You can wear the water socks inside your zoomers and they can hold in heat for short distances.
Why are my hands and feet so cold?
In the cold water all the blood travels to your heart to protect it from the cold, leaving the circulation in your hands and feet (farthest from your core center) deprived of the warm blood circulation. This is normal.
What is an ebb and flood?
Different current cycles that bay waters run at different times in 24 hour periods. More detailed information on currents are given in each briefing of our training sessions.
Is there a place to change in Aquatic Park?
Not really, but it is a public beach. You can change there at the bleachers at Aquatic Park or by your car. There is a surf shower at the East end of the beach and there are bathrooms in the nearby local businesses, and at the park by Fort Mason.
Why do I need earplugs?
Yes, always. If the inner ear gets cold it affects your equilibrium, so that when you leave the water after you swim you become dizzy. Earplugs help keep your head warm and protect you from bacteria in the water.
If I wear earplugs I can’t hear anything, should I still wear them?
You don’t need to hear anything after the initial instructions. If there is danger we will blow a loud horn, and you will definitely hear it. Concentrate on the sound of your breathing and your heart beating, this will allow for a more focused swim and calm the body and mind.
How long should I train in the water, and what distance should I aspire to ?
Your training in the open water should be measured in time, not distances, building stamina and acclimating to the cooler water temperatures. The distances and speed should be considered in competition only.
Is a diving or surfing wetsuit okay for swimming?
No, they are designed for diving and surfing only.
What type of wetsuit should I buy, and can I wear a short sleeve suit?
You can rent a wetsuit from Sports Basement and the rental price will go towards the purchase should you decide to invest in one. Get a wetsuit that fits you perfectly. At Sports Basement they have assigned personnel to help you make the best selection for your body type. It’s also good to get some Body Glide to prevent chafing around the neck.
If you have any other questions, feel free to ask our coaches at the workout session. Register for the next Swim With Pedro Weekly Workout session. See you in the bay!
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