By Aleta George

“Swimming sustains me,” says Fran Hegeler of the South End Rowing Club. That’s the kind of enthusiastic language some Bay swimmers express, but sharing the water means sharing it in sickness and in health. Right now, Sausalito’s Marine Mammal Center is dealing with a large outbreak of leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can cause fatal kidney damage in California sea lions. But it isn’t likely to affect swimmers, as the bacteria is not known to survive long in saltwater. The water at Aquatic Park Cove, and 15 other beach sites around San Francisco, is tested weekly for indicator bacteria by San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission and Department of Public Health. Swimmers remain keen on immersing themselves in the cold, salty estuary.  “When people ask me the difference between swimming in a pool and the Bay,” recounts Brad Robinson, another avid swimmer, “I tell them that the water in the Bay is alive. Every day is different.”

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Saltwater Revival

By Aleta George

“Swimming sustains me,” says Fran Hegeler of the South End Rowing Club. That’s the kind of enthusiastic language some Bay swimmers express, but sharing the water means sharing it in sickness and in health. Right now, Sausalito’s Marine Mammal Center is dealing with a large outbreak of leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can cause fatal kidney damage in California sea lions. But it isn’t likely to affect swimmers, as the bacteria is not known to survive long in saltwater. The water at Aquatic Park Cove, and 15 other beach sites around San Francisco, is tested weekly for indicator bacteria by San Francisco’s Public Utilities Commission and Department of Public Health. Swimmers remain keen on immersing themselves in the cold, salty estuary.  “When people ask me the difference between swimming in a pool and the Bay,” recounts Brad Robinson, another avid swimmer, “I tell them that the water in the Bay is alive. Every day is different.”

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About the author

Author and journalist Aleta George writes about the history, culture, and nature of California.