Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The following are common questions regarding the weekly swim sessions in Berkeley. Find Alcatraz swim FAQs here. Please let us know if you have questions regarding another event.

Isn't it cold? Do I need to wear a wetsuit?

  • " the BAY? Isn't it COLD?" We've all gotten this question when we tell one of our friends that we swim in the bay! Many people are surprised by how comfortable it can actually be. We never require you to wear a wetsuit, but a lot people choose to. The temperature can vary drastically depending on time of year and location within the bay. The water in Berkeley is usually in the upper 60s and low 70s all summer long, which is warm enough to swim without a wetsuit and not be too cold. To get a better idea, pools used for competitive swimming are supposed to be between 77 and 82 degrees.

  • If you choose to wear a wetsuit but aren't ready to commit to buying one, you can rent them at Sports Basement for $25 a week or $50 a month. If you then decide you want to buy one, you can accrue up to $150 in credit (within 90 days) that can be put towards a purchase of a new one. Sports Basement rents Blue Seventy and 2XU suits, which are both specifically for open water swimming, but if you have a surfing-style wetsuit, that works just fine, too!

How good of a swimmer do I need to be?

  • Open water swimming intimidates many people, but many are surprised how easy it is, especially in low-wave areas like the ones we use. If you can swim 35 lengths of a 25 yard pool, you can handle our swims. Our swims are set up with different distance options, so if you want to do less than half mile or more than one mile, it's fine. All our swims are very low-key, so you don't have to worry about being embarrassed if you're not a competitive swimmer.

What about sharks and fish?

  • Don't worry! There has never been a shark attack in this area. There may be some fish, but they usually stay clear of people in the water. You can swim hundreds of times without ever seeing a fish.

What about boats?

  • Motorized boats are not common in the areas where we swim. Kayaks and windsurfers are, but there aren't many of them, and they are aware of our swimmers in the water, and our staff will be in kayaks to help keep you safe!

Where can I get one of those cool t-shirts or caps?

  • We have t-shirt, hats, hoodies, baseball hats, beanies, and stickers! They're all high-quality and affordable. Click "Apparel" on the top menu bar.

What if it rains?

  • We will swim rain or shine. You're getting wet anyway, and rainy swims can be a lot of fun! We do not reimburse registration payments due to weather.

Is there a minimum age?

  • If you are comfortable in the water, you're welcome to join. We have had swimmers ranging from nine to seventy years old! Parents, if you're unsure if your child should participate, email us and we can discuss it. Children under 18 need to make sure their parents/guardians sign the waiver. You can download it here. Please note that the waiver you complete in the online registration is separate.

What if I need to stop during a swim?

  • We have experienced staff members in kayaks for every swim. They are prepared to help you in any situation.

Will you be coaching me on technique?

  • That's up to you! Our staff is made up of knowledgable, experienced swimmers who are happy to give technique advice if you want. Some swimmers choose to be left alone. Please let us know!

What should I bring?

Is Open Water Swimming with ODYSSEY incredibly fun?

  • YES!