Mermaid Victorious – Scarlett escapes from Alcatraz!
The Mermaid awoke at 3 a.m. to find the butterflies in her stomach were already wide awake and perking along. She explained that they didn’t leave until she jumped five feet from the vessel into the chill waters on the east side of Alcatraz.
The fearless Terri Parker (aka Scarlett the Mermaid) and her buddy, Chris Spangenberg of Cloverdale, were about to navigate the 3- to 4-foot swells of San Francisco Bay, on their way to the South End Rowing Club in San Francisco as part of the club’s annual Alcatraz Swim.
The 48-year-old sirenidae had attached her monofin (or mermaid’s tail) to her wet suit and was oozing with confidence. Seventeen years in the Coast Guard had prepared Scarlett for swells, cold water and hazards that a less-experienced swimmer might not expect.
From the South End Club, she walked with Spangenberg, Mer-tail in hand, to Pier 39 and Castagnola’s where two vessels were ready to take the 81 swimmers to Alcatraz where they would jump into the Bay and commence to burn calories in earnest.
Parker guesstimates she burned about 2,000 calories covering the mile-and-a-half journey across the water.
As to whether her leap into the Bay chilled her, Parker says her thought was, “Ah-h, what a relief.” She explained that the water warmed her after the chilly boat ride over.
She saw her friend Tony Gilbert, author of “Hannah and the Secret Mermaids of S.F. Bay”, whom she helped to launch his book on October 13 by getting pod mates and other amphibians together to paddle and play in the Bay before the cameras.
Scarlett turned around and looked at the Rock from the waterline. “It was daunting,” she says, between Alcatraz and the swells she had to deal with. “The Bay is so big, and I felt very tiny.”
The 81 swimmers spread out and the two boat pilots kept close enough to make sure no one got eaten along the way. They later reported seeing a wide variety of sea life.
Chris and Terri swam together until they were halfway across and then lost visual contact with one another. “In the old days,” says Parker, “everyone swam in the (right) direction,” but the slower swimmers had to swim toward a moored battleship near the Rowing Club. She says it added an extra quarter-mile to her trip.
Terri and Chris, although separated while swimming, arrived on the shore at the same time. They celebrated with an exuberant belly bump and a high five. Chris is a 6′ 4″, 400 pounder andsays Terri, she had to leap high enough to nail down their ritual.
At the South End Rowing Club, reports Terri, the swimmers were fed a huge breakfast and there was standing room only at the sauna.
Asked if she was exhausted by her swim or had trouble covering the distance, she replied, “I was wired! I was SO-O high! The adrenaline was still pumping.”
When Parker got home to Santa Rosa on Sunday evening, she downed a 10-ounce steak, three baked potatoes, three pieces of pumpkin pie and other sundry comestibles. After the long adrenaline rush wore off she was able to get to sleep. In a comment a few days ago, Terri’s dad, Ed wrote:
|am Terri’s dad. Although I am very proud of her I have forbidden her to do this. She told me several weeks ago and I forbid this event. Kids nowadays they just don’t listen.ps pray for her safety. If there is a mermaid fairy may she keep my daughter safe.|
Of course we’re wondering if he has any further comments.
When asked if she had anything to add, Terri Parker replied, “I just want to say how proud I am of Chris.”