The Cold, Hard Facts Of Fighting The Farallons

The Cold, Hard Facts Of Fighting The Farallons

Throughout the swim, I was calculating how much time I have, before I blank out. [As I was approaching the Farallon Islands], I could see the rocks but I was hurting, said Joseph Locke.

My arms or shoulders didn’t hurt, it was just the cold. As soon as I jumped in, I knew it was cold and I knew it was going to be a difficult swim.”

In a part of the ocean were the Men In The Gray Suit frequently congregate and feed, Joseph’s intermediate concerns were not on the Great White Sharks, but focused entirely on the 51°F (10.5°C) water near his start at the Golden Gate Bridge to mid-channel when the water temperature dropped to 47°F (8.3°C). And the 40-43°F (4.4-6.1°C) air temperature and ocean breezes made his conditions even tougher.

Starting at 3 am in order to catch a strong flood tide, Joseph rode the current flushing out of San Francisco Bay to the deeper 47°F waters of the Red Triangle.

I thought when the sun came up that the ocean would get warmer. But instead, it got colder and colder,” said the former Harvard University water polo player of his 6 hour 32 minute effort from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Farallon Islands.

Throughout the swim and especially after a few hours in the 47°F water, Captain Vito Bialla sent in his fellow Night Train Swimmers (Darrin Connolly, Dave Holscher, Patti Bauernfeind and Kim Chambers to swim alongside him and monitor his presence up close. Towards the end, Vito made the call, “I told [pace swimmer] Phil [Cutti] to jump in and look into his eyes and make a judgement if or how we were going to continue.”

Phil dove in and swam right up next to his fellow Night Train Swimmer. “His his eyes were huge, round as saucers. I knew he was done and we called it.”

It was tough, but I was prepared to continue,” said the adventurer from Mill Valley whose bearing calls to mind a young Kevin Murphy with a physique and mindset that are suitable for these tough swims. Not once did he ask to get out and he was mindful of where he was and what he was doing. “At the same time, I also respected the decision by Vito and everyone.”

And Joseph remains characteristically undaunted. His enthusiasm for the sport and his drive to achieve such a difficult swim oozes from his soul. “I am going to try again. With everything out there, I feel I can handle it, but it was just the decreasing temperature from 51°F (10.5°C) to 47°F (8.3°C) that got me this time.”

As he lives for another day.

Additional photos here; video montage is here.

Copyright © 2012 by Open Water Source
Steven Munatones