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Open Water Swimon San Francisco Bay

I help individuals and small groups of swimmers safely achieve their swimming goals on San Francisco Bay - including Escape from Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge, and others.

Where would you like to swim?

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When is your window of availability? How fast do you swim? How many of you would like to swim?

Solo Swims

Ideal if you're trying to push yourself to achieve a marathon swim or personal goal. I'll work with you to get the ideal timing and date with the currents. Observers and family can come along and watch!

Small Groups

Grab some friends and do a swim together. The Escape from Alcatraz and Golden Gate Crossing are both about a mile and a half, and achievable by most competent swimmers. You'll swim together as a pod, and have laughs along the way.

Popular Routes

Escape from Alcatraz

The iconic 1.25mile swim from the island of Alcatraz to the San Francisco shoreline. There are two variations of this popular swim: One at slack current where you swim directly from the island to San Francisco Aquatic Park. An alternative uses the ebb current to land near Crissy Field.

Escape to Alcatraz
(Bridge to Island)
Golden Gate Crossing
Bridge to Bridge
Marin Headlands
Round-trip Angel Island.


Rates vary by length of swim, number of people and complexity in organizing it. At the low end, I charge $300 for an Escape from Alcatraz to San Francisco, plus $50 for each additional person. Longer and more complex swims are more expensive.  

Temperatures vary quite substantially within the Bay depending on where you swim, the weather on the day, and the tide cycle. As a rule of thumb, in the central Bay it can be as cold as 50F (10C) in the middle of winter, and the water reaches the high 60s (20C) at the end of August. 

There are many places around San Francisco Bay where you can swim relatively safely without a pilot. Aquatic Park, Crissy Field, China Beach, Sausalito, Paradise Cove, and Clipper Cove are some of my favorites. For cross-channel and longer distance swims you'll encounter boat traffic, currents and other hazards. An experienced swim pilot will work with Vessel Traffic Service to ensure you're visible to shipping, a pilot will help navigate your swim to take advantage of the currents, and watch over and protect you from other hazards. 

San Francisco Bay is a wild and unpredictable environment - that's what makes it such an exciting place to swim. You'll often spot sea lions, seals, and porpoises in the water near you. Pelicans will fly over and look down on you. On lucky days, we might even spot a whale from the boat. And yes, there are several species of sharks that live in the Bay too. 

Fortunately, it is very rare that a swimmer has a negative interaction with wildlife. The worst I've witnessed was a curious seagull that pestered a swimmer many years ago. The last recorded nearby shark attack was in the 1960s, and that was outside the Bay. Lots to think about when planning a long swim, but wildlife shouldn't be top of your list. 

What you wear in the water is up to you. You can even wear nothing if it's your birthday. But the Bay is almost always cold. 50-55F through the winter, and it doesn't warm much past 60F until mid-July. If you have any doubt about your cold water tolerance, I encourage you to wear a wetsuit. A wetsuit ensures you'll be able to enjoy your swim without the worry of getting too cold. 

Experienced Bay swimmers typically swim without a wetsuit. This is fine too. Keep in mind that if you are swimming with friends who swim slower than you, you may get colder than usual if you have to wait for them. 

Sports Basement is a nearby location where you can easily rent a wetsuit

Your Pilot

I've been swimming regularly in San Francisco Bay since 2010, and piloting swims for almost as long. I'm probably on the water - swimming, rowing, sailing, piloting - several times a week. I understand SF Bay's currents and conditions in depth. I love helping others find the joy and adventure of being on the water, and in the water. I'm a USCG Licensed Captain, and Fleet Captain emeritus at the Dolphin Club.