By: Jack Mallery
Alcatraz looms on the horizon in the early morning sun as senior Viraj Ghosh cuts through the surrounding icy waters with crisp strokes. While there is no tangible prize at the end of the grueling swim, the satisfaction from the achievement is enough to motivate him. To Ghosh, open water swimming was an inviting change from the normal repetitive laps in pools. It represented an opportunity to explore the sport he loved while simultaneously pushing the boundaries of his body while creating connections with those close to him. “Open water swimming has always been a sort of family event for me, and it’s great to go out and compete,” Ghosh said.
Not only does the family aspect of these competitions appeal to Ghosh, he revels in the training needed. “Training for events is probably my favorite part because even though you’re cold and miserable, you know everyone else is, and there’s always hot chocolate and a meal at the end,” Ghosh said.
In addition to the family bonding and training, open water swimming presents an opportunity to learn valuable life skills. “Long distance swimming teaches you to push past the pain, and knowing that you have the grit and determination to do something hard makes other hard challenges in life seem trivial,” Ghosh said.
While Ghosh might be motivated by the prize of hard work and pure persistence, there are certain perks that make him favor certain swim spots over others. “Swimming in Aquatic Park is definitely a go-to place to practice because this one cafe at the corner of Ghirardelli square is definitely a sweet spot for me,” Ghosh said.
Open water swimming is a sport that changed Ghosh’s life and he highly recommends that others try too. “Even if you’re a slow swimmer, or you think it’ll be too long, come out and try an open water event,” he said. “It’s tons of fun and at the end of the day, you’ll have done something pretty cool.”