With Pools Closed, Swimmers Brave Cold Bay Waters As Temps Rise

Holly Quan
May 22, 2020 - 10:24 am

Beaches and popular parks are expected to be busier this holiday weekend as the weather heats up. But with gyms and public pools closed, some are reconsidering what they once considered daunting: swimming in the bay.

“I have no wetsuit on, it’s a little chilly,” says triathlete Thornton Weiler. It’s a sunny Friday morning at Crown Beach in Alameda and he is preparing for his first swim of the day. “You do a 50 yard dash, and that just kinda acclimates your body, you warm up. And then you can slow it down, you get into a rhythm. We’re gonna swim a mile.” 

With choppy waves and temperatures in the low 60s, it is warmer than San Francisco’s Aquatic Park where the Dolphin Club trains. But Weiler says that does not make the water comfortable, “oh it’s a shocker every time."

He has been joined recently by Elon Chertock, who usually swims in a pool. Now he does his workouts in a wetsuit with a bright orange buoy around his waist to ward off boats.

“I’m still trying to get my wife to go out. She still hasn’t. I’d recommend it but it probably won’t be for everyone. The water’s definitely not clear,” Chertock says. “When my hand’s fully extended I can’t see my fingertips. So it’s not for everyone but if you need to swim and your pool’s closed, you have to find alternatives.”

Weiler has seen more and more swimmers as the shelter in place orders run on. And all those swimmers attracts other types of crowds.

“If you see a bunch of hungry seabirds circling overhead, it’s probably swimmers right below stirring up the fish,” he says. “One Saturday I was here I think there were 30 people out here. It was amazing, it was like salmon spawning.”