Being a politician, even a local politician in a community as small as Atherton, which has a population of around 7,000, can require a tough skin.
Atherton Councilman Bill Widmer, who is serving his second term on the council, can now claim he's proved his toughness off the job as well as on. On Sept. 13, Mr. Widmer swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco, 1.25 miles in frigid water, finishing in 37 minutes and 31 seconds.
"You are ferried out to just off the island and jump (or get pushed) off the boat in groups of three every 3 to 5 seconds," Mr. Widmer said. "Then you swim through the fog, cold and waves to Aquatic Park."
He finished 80th out of 834 swimmers.
Mr. Widmer said he has been training for the swim since early February, swimming 3,000 yards four times a week.
"It was a great experience, but fighting the currents can be a lonely experience when you look out over the gray bay with no one around," he said.
Mr. Widmer said that it was the first time he and two other members of his five-man team (the Mermen) tried the swim. Other team members, all from Palo Alto, are Buddy Arnheim, Alex Kaplinski, Jon Ward and Chuck York. All five finished in under 40 minutes.