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Kathy Winkler: We are a big family at Water World Swim

 October 30, 2015

Water World Swim coach and ambassador Kathy Winkler is a versatile rock star. A member of the USA World Team on numerous occasions, she won the Ultraman World Championships four times, climbed the podium at the Ironman Kona World Championships twice and even escaped Alcatraz – not once, but ten times, holding the record in two age groups. Yet, her biggest goal is to continue inspiring people and motivate them to swim in the San Francisco Bay…or the Galapagos Islands, where she just recently completed a three day challenge.


How important is it to stay active for you?

Swimming and sports are an integral part of my lifestyle. My family knows I am no fun to be around until I have a workout under my belt. I think it is very empowering to know how far you can push your body and also to know what it can do for you. It invigorates me and keeps me healthier. I am the only person I know who has only had one sick day from work in my whole life!


Is this part of the reason why you joined Water World Swim as coach?

Water World Swim is a wonderful way to get people into the bay or to bring back athletes (such as myself) who competed perhaps all growing up but were tired of the controlled practices and competition but still like to exercise. The Bay has a way of making you enjoy working out again. There is no black line burnout, you can go and test yourself, or not. It is a new way to experience swimming and leaves you invigorated either from the cold or from the workout, or the view, or all of the above.


What makes the Water World Swim events so special?

The amazing thing about our swims is we live in such a great place. So many landmarks that people see on TV and on postcards and to say that you have been SWIMMING in or around these landmarks almost gives you a little slice of ownership. "I swam from Alcatraz, or under the Golden Gate, or to Angel Island" how many people can say that? I can't say I have a favorite, I have not been able to sample all the treats yet.


Who can join the swim clinics in the San Francisco Bay?

Our Thursday and Sunday swims are for EVERYONE.  That is another great thing about the group. It is not competitive, no one cares if you are in the fast group or slow group. Everyone is there to make sure everyone finishes and has a good time. It is like a family I think, very welcoming and I know that I am more than happy to give any advice or help, and I likewise feel comfortable asking anyone else for the same.


Last week you traveled to the Galapagos Islands with Water World Swim for the first time…

Yes! The Galapagos experience was amazing, I would not trade it for anything. The people and natural treasures are well worth the trip!  And the best thing is that now we offer swim clinics there, too. A great way of combining safe and guided swimming workouts with visiting the national treasures on one of the world’s most beautiful islands.


And you participated in the half ironman distance on Friday, ran a marathon on Saturday and finished a 2K swim on Sunday. Tell us about this action packed weekend…

The event was hard. No, I was not anticipating the amount of hill climbing or the technical challenges of the course. Certainly not a fast 70.3 event with all the climbing and varied road conditions, but, everyone had the same set of challenges, just a test of who could weather them the best!


Most people would be exhausted after a concluding the half ironman distance…

Knowing that the marathon was the next day I had to conserve a bit during the 70.3. The marathon is the most beautiful yet challenging course I have been on. It is incredible to start at one end of the island which is a hot desert, climb through the rainforest and see the ocean on the other side of the island and then run through the various climate zones to get to the other side. The nature around me made my heart sing! Good to be prepared for anything, heat, rain, wind, humidity, we experienced them all.


And how was the 2K swim on Sunday?

By the time the swim came along on Sunday I was thinking "this is icing on the cake!" and it felt that way for the first 200 yds, and then I was tired. Glad to do it, and what a nice thing to have under your belt, but also certainly glad to be on vacation mode after that. That said, I was so happy while racing, even when tired, it was fun and I really enjoyed myself just about every minute of it.  I love the personal challenge and the way I feel when I am able to exercise and enjoy nature.

Thank you, Kathy!