Atherton council member swims from Alcatraz to San Francisco

Bill Widmer completes swim in under 40 mintues

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.


Like this comment
Posted by Jenny Redo
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Sep 22, 2015 at 1:46 pm

Awesome! Way to go Bill!

Like this comment
Posted by SFIst
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 22, 2015 at 3:13 pm

Barbara you are 2 for 2 today!

Frisco is a city in Texas. San Francisco is the city that Mr. Widmer swam to from Alcatraz.

Like this comment
Posted by Stu Soffer
a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on Sep 22, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Stu Soffer is a registered user.

Impressive. Congratulations!

2 people like this
Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Sep 22, 2015 at 4:26 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

I would NEVER call San Francisco Frisco, even if I didn't have room in a headline. I almost complained to my editor when I saw it, but I am pretty sure he did it because there wasn't room for San Francisco, and I didn't want to make his life any harder than it already is. But I will fix it, so none of need to continue to be bothered by it!

Like this comment
Posted by SFist
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Sep 22, 2015 at 6:10 pm


Thank you!

SF always is OK

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Redwood City gets new brewery
By Elena Kadvany | 6 comments | 3,698 views

Palo Alto Measures E, F and Z
By Steve Levy | 6 comments | 1,704 views

Couples: It's Normal to Get Defensive . . . Then What?
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 1,044 views

Messiness and parenting
By Cheryl Bac | 2 comments | 762 views

Learning Disabilities and the Struggle to Be Known
By Aldis Petriceks | 1 comment | 730 views