Open Water Expedition Swims
Experience the Bay from a whole different perspective! Enjoy beautiful swims in the wide-open Bay. Challenge your skills. Explore the gorgeous views from the water. Create memories that will last a lifetime.
Swims vary in length and difficulty. Please see the descriptions for more information. Spectators are invited to ride in the boat on most, but not all, swims. Most trips begin and end at Aquatic Park, where we meet on the grassy hillside next to Van Ness Avenue, our regular meeting spot, unless otherwise indicated.
Times listed are the meeting times. Directions and more details about each trip will be emailed to you upon signing up.
To sign up:
We require registration in advance (sign up form + payment). Links to the registration pages follow below (under the description of each swim, next to the date of the swim). Please contact Leslie with any questions! If you are registering fewer than two days before the swim, please email Leslie to check availability. Times listed are MEETING TIMES.
February 24: Alcatraz to St. Francis, 6:00 am
April 6: Alcatraz to AP, 8:30 am
May 12: Alcatraz to AP, 7:15 am
May 18: Trans GGB, 6:00 am
June 23: Bridge to Bridge (Golden Gate Bridge to Bay Bridge), 7:00 am
October 12: Alcatraz to AP, 6:30 am
October 13: Trans Golden Gate Bridge, 7:45 am
Register for Expedition swims here.
Locations and Descriptions
Alcatraz, San Francisco
Escape from The Rock! These swims will end either at Yacht Harbor or Aquatic Park. These swims are limited to six swimmers per motor boat, so spaces are limited! *See our 8-week Alcatraz training plan below under "Training and Preparation." View the course map to Aquatic Park and the course map to Yacht Harbor. We are offering a new course this year - for the 75th anniversary of the Golden Gate Bridge, our Alcatraz swim will end under the golden span.
Read more about swimming from Alcatraz here.
1.3 to 2.0 miles; swim ending at GGB is 3.0 miles
$50 for private kayak guide
February 24 (to St. Francis) - 6:00 am
April 6 - 8:30 am
May 12 - 7:15 am
June 30 (to Crissy) - 7:00 am
October 12 - 6:30 am
Bridge to Bridge, San Francisco
This is a challenging and gorgeous trip along the entire San Francisco bay-side waterfront. The swim begins with a jump off the boat under the Golden Gate Bridge or Bay Bridge. *See our 8-week Bridge to Bridge training plan below under "Training and Preparation." Swimmers will swim in groups of 2 per kayak escort. You will be matched according to your given one-mile swim time. Spectators are welcome to come along for the boat ride and the fun! View the course map.
$199 for Bridge to Bridge
$70 for private kayak guide
Date: June 23 - 7:00 am
Trans-Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
Swim UNDER the Golden Gate Bridge, from San Francisco to Marin! You'll jump from the boat, swim the length of the bridge. This swim begins and ends from the boat. The boat will load and unload at the St. Francis Yacht Club. The boat ride alone is worth the trip! View the course map. Meeting place for this swim.
1.2 to 1.5-mile swim
$50 for private kayak guide
May 18 - 6:00 am
October 13 - 7:45 am
Wetsuit Rental: $45 for 30 days
Provided by Fit2Race. You may rent a wetsuit directly with them. To rent a suit, visit the Swim Art Store on the Fit2Race website; click the "Store" link and then click the "Rent a Wetsuit" link. Rental instructions and size info is also on their site. They will MAIL the wetsuit to you, and it is yours to use for 30 days!
Private Kayak Escort: It is possible to sign up to have your own private kayak escort for the swim. The fee ranges from $40 to $70. A kayaker will be assigned to you (or you and a friend if you wish) to guide you safely to the finish. This option will appear on the registration form.
Safety: Please note that for the sake of safety in the Bay, we ask that groups of swimmers stay together in the water. It is imperative that swimmers not become separated. Therefore, should a fast swimmer end up far out in front of the pack, we will ask him or her to stop and wait or "swim circles" around the group. Should a slower swimmer have difficulty keeping up with the main pack, we will pick that swimmer up in a boat and reposition him or her closer to the others.
Difficulty Levels and Requirements for Participation: Advanced swims are longer, challenging, and the swimmers are faster. Prerequisites for Advanced swims: must be able to swim 1 mile in the open water comfortably, in 45 minutes or less; must have completed at least 2 open water swims (preferably in cold water); must be comfortable in choppy water. Intermediate swims are around one mile in length. Prerequisites for Intermediate swims: must be able to swim 1 mile comfortably in open water, in 45 minutes or less; must have completed at least 2 open water swims. Beginner swims accommodate swimmers of all speeds and skill. Prerequisites for All Level swims: must be able to swim 100 yards in the pool without stopping; must have completed at least one open water swim; must be able to swim one mile in 45 minutes or less.
Swimming Speed: Should you not manage to stay back with the main swim group (by sprinting ahead), or should you fall behind the main swim group, we will charge you the Private Kayak Escort fee ($40 to $70) after the swim is finished. Making use of private kayaks take resources away from the overall swim and compromises swim safety.
Training and Preparation: Click here for tips and advice for preparing for each of our Expedition swims. Our 8-week Alcatraz training plan will give you an idea of how to prepare for this swim if you are a beginner or intermediate swimmer. Our 8-week Bridge to Bridge training plan will give you an idea of how to prepare for this swim if you are already an open water swimmer and want to take your training to the next level.
Disclaimer: The Bay is a dynamic environment, and it is not possible to guarantee that every person will swim the expected route. Swimmers may have to be repositioned by the kayakers or boat captain.
Traveling from out of town: Any of the hotels in the San Francisco Fisherman's Wharf area will be extremely convenient to the start and ending location of our swims. In particular, we recommend the Argonaut Hotel (as a high-end option) and the Buena Vista Motor Inn (as a lower-end option, about a 10-minute walk away). There is also a great Hostel up the hill from Aquatic Park (a 7-minute walk). Downtown there is a nice large hotel called Le Meridian. For a B&B try Annie's Cottage.
Payment: We ask for payment for our swims in advance, through Active.com. We also have a paper sign in form, that you can mail back with a check. For this option, please contact Leslie. To pay by credit card, an invoice will be emailed to you and direct you to our PayPal site. An additional processing fee will be applied to PayPal payments.
Spectators: We are able to take spectators on most, but not all, of our Expedition swims. The fee for each Spectator is $10. You may indicate how many spectators you plan to bring on the sign up form.
Confirmation: Upon receipt of your Sign up Form and payments, a confirmation email will be sent. More details about the swims will be emailed a week before the event. If you do not receive these, please phone us.
Registration Deadline: Registration for all swims will close 24 hours before the swim meeting time.
Refunds: You must give your credit card information to Active at the time you register. We will offer a full refund (not including Active.com's processing fee) up to six days before the trip, with a $2 processing fee. After six days, no refund will be offered. You may transfer your registration to another swim (of equal value) with no extra charge. To transfer a registration you must let us know at least one day before the event you are scheduled for.
Cancellations: We reserve the right to cancel a swim if we do not meet the minimum requirement of four sign ups. Should this happen, we will either refund you in full or invite you to transfer your registration to the same swim on a different date. We also reserve the right to cancel a swim if the weather conditions make the swim unsafe. Should this happen, $25 of your fee will be non-refundable and the difference will be refunded to you.
Clients: We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.
Information and FAQ: For more information about open water swimming, see our Information page.