Swimming in San Francisco
July 18, 2008 10:53 AM   Subscribe

For a friend: where do people go swimming in San Francisco?

Friend just moved there, asked me to post this. Nearest ocean beach that's safe for swimming? Does anyone swim in the Bay, and if so where? She thanks you, and I thank you, in advance.
posted by fourcheesemac to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You can swim at Stinson Beach, which is a few miles north of SF, over the Golden Gate Bridge, in Marin County. It's awesome!
posted by Tren at 11:26 AM on July 18, 2008

People swim all over the place. Ocean Beach, Baker Beach, Stinson Beach and all over the Bay. You need a full wetsuit. Booties and/or a hood are not bad ideas either.
posted by gnutron at 11:31 AM on July 18, 2008

San Francisco has a wonderful network of public neighborhood swimming pools, including one outdoor one.


have fun!
posted by Marsha at 11:50 AM on July 18, 2008

Ocean Beach can have dangerous rip currents (and, no life guards). People swim in the Bay - Baker beach, Crissy Field, some spots on the East Bay side that I don't know the names of off the top of my head. Oh, and Aquatic Park, in SF as well.

The tides in the Bay can be very strong, so if your friend is swimming out any distance, she should be aware of that. There are groups and clubs that swim together, which is probably the safest way to go about it. Oh, and the Bay is a major shipping lane as well.

The water's wicked cold on the ocean side of things. Less so in the Bay, but not exactly tropical.
posted by rtha at 11:52 AM on July 18, 2008

I belong to the South End Rowing Club, which also has a very active and social bay swimming program. We are located at Aquatic Park, and we're open for public use of our locker rooms and showers for a $6.50 day use fee, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The club is a non-profit, so yearly membership costs less than a buck a day, and gets you access to lots of fun club events and such. Well worth it if your friend is an avid swimmer.

Incidentally, I know plenty of people (some 60+ years old) who would disagree with gnutron's assertion that "you need a full wetsuit."
posted by autojack at 12:22 PM on July 18, 2008

You can swim at Stinson Beach

Stinson is awesome, but your friend should only swim (or surf) there knowing that there are great white sharks occasionally found there or at the nearby Bolinas beach (also beautiful). There have been two shark attacks and a half dozen sightings since 1998 at Stinson.

Bolinas hits the top ten of shark-infested waters worldwide, according to this site. And Bolinas was the site of a shark attack in which a young female surfer's leg was bitten off.

According to John McCosker of the California Academy of Sciences, there have been 82 shark attacks in Calfornia, 12 in Marin County, more than anywhere else.

My friend's rule of thumb for Stinson/Bolinas is if there are seals around, paddle out, otherwise watch from the shore. He's seen 3 great whites at Bolinas in 5 years of surfing there.
posted by arnicae at 12:31 PM on July 18, 2008

Very few people swim at Ocean Beach. Mostly hard-core surfers and I've even seen a couple of them have to get rescued off a rock by helicopter.
posted by mikepop at 1:17 PM on July 18, 2008

the jewish community center on California & Presidio has a great indoor pool (lap lanes, recreation pool, hot tub), you can either join as monthly member or pay as you go.
posted by askmehow at 1:23 PM on July 18, 2008 [1 favorite]

Awesome, thank you! Once again, AskMe delivers.
posted by fourcheesemac at 1:59 PM on July 18, 2008

There's also a nice outdoor pool downtown at Golden Gateway Tennis & Swim Club. Very handy if you work in the Financial District and want to swim before/after work.

Pretty sure there are no sharks.
posted by CruiseSavvy at 2:59 PM on July 18, 2008

I swim at aquatic park (and I'm a wetsuit wearer, although I see many hardier souls who are swimsuit only). If they like to swim outdoors there's a great pool on 19th in btw Guerrero and Valencia, it's about 4 bux to swim. It's only open May-Sept (?) though, but its one of my favourite places in the city. I wouldn't swim at Ocean Beach, the rips are pretty fierce. I have a friend who does surf Ocean Beach, who is also a lifeguard, and he won't swim there.
posted by poissonrouge at 4:29 PM on July 18, 2008

Don't worry about sharks or shark attacks. Yes, there are sharks, and yes there is an extremely remote chance that you'll be attacked. There is a much, much greater chance you'll die in a car accident on the way to the beach than by shark attack while you're there. More people in the United States are killed by pigs every year than are killed by sharks.
posted by cnc at 9:14 PM on July 18, 2008

My Uncle teaches windsurfing all the time at Crissy Field, so it must be okay.
posted by Doctor Suarez at 12:32 PM on July 19, 2008

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