Swim History + Upcoming Swims

Upcoming Swims

  • May 2019, 2021- Round Trip Angel Island- 10 miles
  • July 29, 2021- Catalina Channel- 21 miles
  • July 3-10 Window 2022- English Channel- 21 miles

Swim History

  • November 14, 2020- Swim Around Coronado – 11 miles – time 4:42
  • October 7, 2020- 4 Islands – Swim starting from a beach on Yerba Buena Island, swimming around Alcatraz, Angel Island and Treasure Island – 14 miles – time 7:03:24
  • September 7, 2020- Crazy 8 – Swimming a figure 8 around Angel Isand and Alcatraz – 9 miles – time 4:15:55
  • June 14, 2020- Round Trip Angel Island- 10 miles- time 5:30:01 – Women’s Record (pending ratification) for a short period
  • July 26, 2019- Length of Lake Tahoe, Camp Richardson to Incline Village- 34.3km- time 14:20:17
  • May 25, 2019- Battle of Carlingford Lough (Ireland)- 7.5km- time: 2:36:56 (part of Infinity Hit the Wall Training camp- Ireland)
  • September 16, 2018- Santa Barbara Channel, Anacapa Island to mainland (Oxnard)- 19.6km- time 7:55:06
  • August 3, 2018- Lake Tahoe True Width, Homewood to Glenbrook- 19.2km- time 6:29:16
  • July 15, 2018- Lake Tahoe Cave Rock to Vikingsholm- 17.2km- time 6:03:25
  • June 9, 2018- Lake Del Valle Buoy Course – 10km – time 3:32:20
  • 30+ Alcatraz swims from 2005 until now

Triathlon History 

  • June 29, 2014- Ironman Coeur d’Alene- 140.6- time 14:34:40
  • July 26, 2015- Ironman Canada- 140.6- time 14:19:49
  • Several 70.3 Races including Big Kahuna (2x), Santa Cruz (2x), Oceanside, Vineman
  • 20+ Sprint + Olympic triathlons including The Escape from Alcatraz, Oakland, Half Moon Bay, Monte Rio, Folsom, Santa Cruz, Desert Triathlon, Triathlon at Alcatraz, Tri Freak, Napa

Closing out year 1 with two Epic Swims (almost)

As 2018 comes to a close, I reflect on what a monumental year! I faced challenges + growth in so many ways. I have met so many new amazing and inspiring people and feel so blessed to have joined the South End Rowing Club. For December, I knew I wanted to close out my first year of marathon swimming with two epic swims with the team who got me to where I am today and who I call my friends, Bryan + Sylvia of Pacific Open Water Swim Co.

On December 9th, my swim buddy Ahelee joined me for a “pilots surprise” with Pacific Open Water Swim Co. What’s that you ask? Well you show up not knowing what you will be swimming. Your pilot (this day we got Bryan) takes you somewhere, you jump and you swim. All we knew was that we were going to swim about 2 hours in 56-57 degree water. Last year at this time, I could not have made it that long in the cold water so I really wanted to push myself beyond my perceived limits. I honestly was not sure I could make it and was thrilled when even at the end of two hours I felt like I could have gone much longer.

Once we finish our safety briefing (love their attention to safety!) we head on out from Horseshoe Cove which is located just to the North East of the Golden Gate Bridge. And as we head out of the cove, Bryan heads towards the Golden Gate Bridge and continues west. Welcome to Pilot’s Surprise!

Smiles before 12.9.18

All smiles on our way out!

We are headed to Mile Rock which is just over 2 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge and to what I call “Whitie” territory. I pretend not to think about sharks. It’s not like we don’t have them in the bay and they stop at the bridge like there is some invisible do not cross line.  This is a totally irrational fear. Secretly I think my Pilots like to put me in situations that scare me a little. And honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. 4 swims now outside the Golden Gate Bridge and each time I have a little less anxiety. Ahelee had no idea until she saw my face when I saw a splash out of the corner of my eye. Thank god it was our beloved Harbor Porpoises! So now it’s time to swim east, then across to the north side of the GGB, under the bridge where we had to dig deep against the flood and then finishing in the calm waters of Horseshoe Cove.

Before the jump 12.9.18

My looks that my poor pilots get before the jump! LOL!

video image

Amazing link to a Video created by Pacific Open Water Swim Co!

Swim Video: Mile Rock to Horseshoe Cove- courtesy of Pacific Open Water Swim Co

Mile rock to horseshoe cove 12.9.18

My final swim of the year was to be on New Year’s Eve Day. I can’t think of a better way to close out the year than with a Bridge to Bridge swim. For this swim, the plan was to swim from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge which is about 6 miles (or 10K). However, we would be swimming with an Ebb Tide giving us a nice push making it feel much more like a 3 or 4 miles swim depending on the strength of the current. Unfortunately, the wind gods had different plans. The winds were blowing 22 miles an hour from the north and heard reports of gusts up to 40 miles an hour. There were conversations and ultimately the conditions were not swimmable and the swim was cancelled. I was definitely disappointed but this was the right and safe decision.

Not swimmable 12.31.18 2

Bryan left, Sylvia right making their way back to Horseshoe Cove

Not swimmable 12.31.18

A little choppy…


What a year it has been! This time last year I was a new-ish member of the South End Rowing Club and still trying to figure out a new path for myself. I was previously an avid triathlete with two ironmans under my belt but my body was just saying no to running. The summer and fall of 2017, I was a bit lost. South End helped me find myself. A new self with a renewed passion for swimming. Through the fall of 2017, I heard stories of the many legends of South End who are impressive marathon swimmers. By December 2017, I had decided that I too wanted to embark on marathon swimming to fill my endurance needs by swimming across Lake Tahoe in the summer of 2018. I had met Sylvia at the South End Rowing Club and chatted with her and Bryan about how Pacific Open Water Swim Co could help me achieve my goals. They put together a swim plan and challenging swims in the bay throughout the season to get me more than ready. I initially signed up for the True Width (12 miles) Swim on August 3rd. I was feeling so good through the season, I added the Vikingholm (10.5 miles) Swim on July 15th more as a practice swim to make sure my nutrition was working for me, that I could handle the altitude and see if I cramped excessively. Then the plan was to re-work as needed to be ready for the August 3rd swim. Well the Viking Swim went amazing and came out feeling great. Ditto for the True Width so in classic Erika fashion, I wanted more and signed up for a swim in the Santa Barbara Channel Islands swimming Anacapa to Oxnard (12 miles) on September 16th. That was not easy. The conditions were not ideal offering some swells, some wind, some surface currents. I got in and I swam from feed to feed. I kept my head down and kept focused and finally landed on shore! What a Year!

I am so excited for what 2019 holds… Stay tuned 🙂


Kitchen Plastic Rehab part 2

As a follow up to my first Kitchen plastic rehab, I am continuing to work through the items in our kitchen where there is plastic. This is a process and I am always mindful that the goal is progress, not perfection. Plastic is everywhere in our lives and in our stores. It is difficult to steer clear of it entirely but I am trying to make every effort to do so. Our kitchen still has plastic, more than I would like to admit and I promise not to beat myself up about it.

In this second go around of our kitchen plastic rehab, I again employed my rule of tackling three items that we seem to consume the most frequently and tackle those items. I sit here drinking my Soda Steam bubble water with lime juice which was part of my kitchen rehab part one. I honestly love my soda stream and love that by now I have saved over 75+ plastic bottles from being used. My next 3 items I identified are:

  1. Deli meats + cheese items
  2. Yogurt
  3. Coffee-mate creamer which is a guilty pleasure of my partner and I am going to try to sneak by my homemade version and see if he can tell the difference

We love to have our deli meats and cheeses to snack on around the house but they always come in soft plastic packaging. I have returned to the deli counter which I feel is how we got meat and cheese when I was a kid. It takes a bit more time and the service counter employees get a little confused when I say I don’t want it in the plastic bag. They usually have paper close by that they use for their sandwiches so I ask them to use that to wrap my meat and cheese instead of putting it in a plastic bag. I also ask them to cut it thin. The cheese that is already sliced sitting in the case is not always the freshest so I just tell them I want it sliced thin so I get it fresh. When I get home I put the meat and cheese in my Stasher Bags in the refrigerator. You will have to have some patience as it takes time and sometimes they don’t really understand why I don’t want the plastic bag. I think the more people who do this, the more it will become part of the way things are done.

Affiliate Link: Stasher Bags

Yogurt! I love my Greek yogurt and probably eat it 3 to 4 days a week. I keep it pretty simple and just eat plain yogurt and add dried berries or granola (bought in the bulk section). Obviously yogurt comes in a plastic cup. Ideally if you need to buy yogurt, it is better for the environment to buy the multi-serving yogurt vs. the single serve cup. Many natural grocers have french style yogurt in glass jars which are also a great option. If I am pinched for time due to a hectic work travel schedule or other busy life occasions, I will buy my yogurt in a glass jar or multi-serve container. However, I have been loving making my own yogurt at home to make  progress on avoiding more plastic (and less waste in general) in my life. And will continue to do so, time permitting. The homemade yogurt I make is a lot less viscous than the Greek yogurt and I would describe it more like a yo-plait consistency which took a little getting used to.

Here is my recipe which makes 1 quart (easily doubled based on your consumption needs):

4 cups of milk (32 oz)- Whole or 2% worked better. Skim seemed to be a little bit too runny for my taste

1/4 cup of commercial yogurt with active cultures

3 quart or larger sauce pan. I use a stainless steel pot with a lid.


Measuring cup


Instant read thermometer- Affiliate Link: Instant Read Thermometer

32oz jar for finished yogurt to store in refrigerator


Poor Milk into sauce pan and begin to heat on medium, stirring gently to avoid scorching the milk or allowing it to boil over.

Heat the  milk slowly to 200 degrees and then remove from heat

Allow the milk to cool to about 115 degrees while stirring occasionally to prevent the skin from forming. If it does form, you can just stir it back in.

Thin the yogurt with the milk. Scoop about a 1/2 cup of warm milk and add it to the 1/4 cup of yogurt while whisking until smooth.

Whisk the thinned yogurt into the milk slowing.

Cover your pot with a lid and wrap in cloth towels to keep it warm as it sets. Transfer the pot to a turned off oven with the light on. Let it set in the oven for at least 4 hours. I tend to let it go 5 to 6 hours. The longer it sets, the thicker and more tart it will become.

Once done, I let it fully cool and then transfer the yogurt to a container, cover and place in the refrigerator. Homemade yogurt will keep for about two weeks in the refrigerator. For my next batch, I save a 1/4 cup from my previous batch.

homemade yogurt

If you are not into this process, there is an option for a yogurt making machine.

Affiliate Link: Yogurt Maker

Coffee-Mate… Not only is the ingredient list questionable but it also comes in plastic and my partner drinks it daily. So I decided to attempt to make some homemade coffee-mate which is quite simple and takes very little time. Since my partner drinks the sugar free vanilla Coffee-Mate, I made a version as close to that as possible. Here is the recipe:

14oz of condensed milk (I used Fat Free Borden)

14oz of milk (I used Fat Free here too)

Two tablespoons of sugar free Vanilla Syrup (Affiliate Link: Fat Free Vanilla Syrup) but there are tons of options to flavor to your liking

I put all three ingredients into a 32oz Jar and shake until well mixed. And then put it in the refrigerator. My partner has been using it. Success!

If you enjoyed my blog, please use the link to the right to follow me. You will get an email update each time I post anything new. I  would also love to hear from you! Do you have feedback? Would you like me to talk about something specific?

*disclosure: Some links in this blog are affiliate links, meaning I make a little bit of money but at no additional cost to you. I will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. This will help me to continue to explore and offer up recommendations to reduce your plastic usage.


Plastic Free Holidays

Can I just say I LOVE San Francisco! We are such a progressive city and I feel so fortunate to live here! Just this past weekend the first annual Zero Waste and Plastic Free Holiday Market was hosted at Fort Mason in the old firehouse. This event featured 20+ local vendors selling eco friendly gifts and items to help reduce your own plastic usage. I arrived shortly after it opened at 10am and this place was jam packed with vendors and people shopping + learning. What an engaged, inquisitive group of consumers! It was so exciting for me to see the magnitude of interest this small event generated and I truly believe that next year it can easily be double, if not triple in size. The momentum around people wanting solutions to become more plastic free is becoming palpable and I hope this is not just in my lovely little bubble that is San Francisco. I hope all people are doing their part to reduce their plastic usage in little and big areas where they can. I will share with you some of the great vendors I chatted with and what I was most intrigued by.

First, as you head out to shop for your friends and family for the holidays, I thought I would provide some quick gift giving tips. I mean do we really need more stuff? The best gifts to give are experiences such as a dinner, a show, a massage or something that individual would truly enjoy experiencing. Alternatively, you could give a gift of a donation to an organization that they support and love (Hint: for me that would be a donation to 5 Gyres Institute 😉 Link: 5 Gyres Kindful donation page)

If you opt to give a gift, make sure it is truly meaningful and will be used. Rather than buying a bunch of little gifts, opt for something of high quality which will stand the test of time. Better yet, see if the gift can be something that is sustainable and better for the environment. Maybe the item is from a B Corp company. What is a B Corp? I am lucky enough to work for Method Products (you know our tear drop hand wash bottle made from recycled plastic) and they are also a B Corp. B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose. B Corps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. A few great B Corps for great gift giving are:

  • Klean Kanteen– reusable food and beverage containers
  • Patagonia– Apparel
  • Athleta– Athletic apparel
  • Big Truck – Hats and apparel
  • Bombas– Awesome socks + apparel
  • ChicoBag– Reusable bags, bottles, utensils
  • Raven + Lily– Fair trade fashion, jewelry + home goods. I love the super affordable leaf earrings ($28- $32) along with many other unique items on this website!

Now on to the first annual Zero Waste and Plastic Free Holiday Market. There were so many amazing vendors at this event on Saturday I won’t be able to touch on all of them but will leave for you the list of all vendors at the bottom of this post. The event was organized by Goods Holding Company and, two Zero Waste and Plastic Free companies in the Bay Area that are aimed at helping individuals and companies live more plastic free lifestyles.

Goods Holding Company was the reason I attended. I had seen their products that offer a simple solution to plastic free shopping in the bulk bin section of the stores. I had no idea that one of the founders also works for 5 Gyres Institute who I am an ambassador for and thrilled to support her local business. I went to the event to specifically purchase the The Goods Kit. This kit includes two 32 fl oz jars, two 16 fl oz jars, blue grease pencil, and 100% organic cotton carrying bag. Each jar has the “Tare Weight” printed on the jar. I am relatively new to bulk shopping. It can be a little intimidating at first so here are a few tips. I started with the mesh + cloth bags. In that case you just want to write down the PLU# (Price Look Up #) which is located on the bulk bin on a twist tie. They use that number to look up the item at check out for the cost per pound. My cloth bags also have a tare weight on them on the little side label. The actual cost you should pay is the difference in the weight of the total bag or bottle with product less the tare weight of the container. The bottles are convenient as you can just use the grease pencil and write the PLU # on the lid along with the tare weight already on the bottle. The jars are great for liquids + powders. Mesh bags are great for your produce. And the cloth bags I use for things like nuts, Granola and some powder items.

Affiliate Link: Earth Junky Reusable Produce Bags

Another table I stopped by was They have built a unique refill service model for home and body products for those that live in the San Francisco Bay Area. They also offer up a variety of other carefully curated items that are eco-friendly. There are a lot of options out there and they have a great assortment of offerings, many of which I already have in my home and will share on future blogs.

I had a couple other favorites of the day. The Hay Straw was definitely something I just got a kick out of and I hope to see these in all bars and restaurants instead of plastic straws in the near future. As of July 1, 2019 plastic straws will be banned in San Francisco. Bravo! The Hay Straw is a great alternative and I picked up a box for an upcoming holiday party I am hosting where we will largely use items we can wash or leverage compostable as needed. I tried the Hay Straw in a drink and of all the non-plastic straw options, this felt and worked very similar to the plastic straws but did float a little more. I think that is a minor sacrifice in the whole scheme of things.

Affiliate Link: Hay Straw

Sustainability Concierge! What a brilliant idea! Trying to figure out where to start, what to do, how to reduce your plastic usage in your home is overwhelming and can be a long journey. I have been working my way through it room by room and item by item. Friday Apaliski worked at San Francisco’s Department of the Environment for 6 years and provides a wealth of knowledge from her background. She will take the guess work out of trying to go green by creating your own personal guide to a greener home. She offers a 1 hour “Go Green Session” for $120 which I am totally interested in checking out to report back. Alternatively you can do a full “Holistic Home” session for $500 which is more comprehensive. Check her out at:

Sustainability Concierge

Ecolunchbox was another great vendor who offers stainless steel lunch boxes and food storage that are 100% plastic free, ocean friendly and nontoxic. I loved the Seal Cup Fivesome set which has 5 bowls that nest for space saving or can be stacked. The bowls are made from steel and the lids are made from silicone. I loved these but we are already stocked up with glass bowls.

Last, I visited Albatross Safety Razors. Are you ready to ditch your disposable razor? I am definitely nervous about this one but after talking to the representative and other friends who have been using the safety razor, I am all in. Ladies this is not just for the men in your life so give one for that special guy and one for yourself this holiday season. I will take it very slow with small strokes to ensure I don’t cut myself. Ultimately this is a greener, cheaper and and better for the world shaving experience. And it makes me a little nostalgic to the days of watching my grandpa shave with his steel razor. I say let’s bring them back! So let’s “Shave the world from plastic!”

Zero waste + plastic free holiday


Vendors From the Zero Waste + Plastic Free Market (Alphabetical Order)
Albatross Designs
Bolga-Ayia baskets
Carol Neilson Ceramic
Eco Lunchbox
GDS Cloth Goods
Goods Holding Company
Look it Maman
Mason Bottle
Peek A Green
Samudra Skin Sea
Sustainbility Concierge
Thoughtful Human
U Konserve
Uptown Granola

*disclosure: Some links in this blog are affiliate links, meaning I make a little bit of money but at no additional cost to you. I will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. This will help me to continue to explore and offer up recommendations to reduce your plastic usage.

Kitchen Plastic rehab

If your kitchen is anything like our kitchen, there is plastic everywhere. It was not until I started this journey that I became extremely aware that seemly everything we purchase is wrapped in plastic. As I evaluated my kitchen and the food + beverages we eat in our home, I employed my rule of tackling the top three items that I seem to consume the most frequently and on a daily basis.

The plastic problem has exploded due to consumerism and creating this single use and convenience need that we have all become addicted to. In some cases I learned that I actually compromised taste, quality, while increasing my spending. The 3 items I identified as the most obvious and consistent abuse of plastic usage for our household were:

  1. I am embarrassed to admit, our single use Keurig K Cup which I would say our household used on average 3 to 4 a day
  2. My love of bubbly water which I would drink one 32oz bottle daily
  3. Almond milk which is used for coffee and shakes

Quite some time ago we purchased the Keurig coffee machine. What a lovely time saver. But I was never quite thrilled with the watered down taste of my coffee but I used it for the convenience. Those little pods are expensive! One little pod costs $0.60- $0.70. For us using 3 pods a day, per week, per month that is approximately $60. Now fast forward to the days of us using the reusable Keurig pods purchased on Amazon. Well this was a game changer. I have my favorite ground coffee brand in the freezer and I can’t even tell you how much better it tastes! For just a few extra seconds of filling and cleaning the reusable option, I get great coffee at a significant saving! The bag of coffee I use is $9.49 for 10oz which equates to about 50 servings or only $0.19 per serving. This takes our monthly cost to $17, saving us over $40 a month. Not only does it save me money but it saves me from having to restock the Keurig cups weekly since there are only 12 in a box.  Great tasting coffee, saving the planet, saving money, saving time = WIN, WIN, WIN, WIN!

Affiliate Link: Kuerig Reusable K Cup

What is life without flavored bubbly water? Well I will tell you. It is awful. How do I know? I gave it up for a couple months until I got my birthday present which was the one and only gift I asked for and received. On my birthday I had my first bottle of Soda Stream bubbly water. At my party we served bottles of soda stream, saving literally 4 plastic bottles that day alone. Sometimes I add some fresh lime, lemon or orange juice to my bottle for flavor. Or I just have it plain. Again, this is a huge savings over time. I would buy a bottle a day at $1.19 or $35 per month. The soda stream Co2 carbonator offers about 60 servings at about $0.50 or about $15 per month, saving us $20 a month! And it also saves me time as I used to go buy bottles every few days. Since I have employed these various plastic saving routines, I shop so much less frequently as I do not have to go to the store as often for various items. The gift of time is precious! And probably is how I found the time to start this blog.

soda stream

Affiliate Link: Soda Stream with extra CO2

I drink almond milk in the morning with my coffee and in my shake so I go through quite a bit of almond milk on a daily and weekly basis. Some of my almond milk was in plastic bottles and some in the tetra packs. Either way, I feel better not buying and adding to the landfill. My homemade almond milk tastes amazing. I can make 2 carafes in about 20 minutes from start to clean up. A nice tip is to look for a couple almond milk or milk glass jars at your local store. Most natural stores have options in glass and I highly recommend always choosing the glass option vs. plastic and find a way to reuse it. Once you finish that glass bottle, keep it and reuse if for homemade Almond milk which is so easy to make. Using a reusable K Cup with homemade almond milk is the perfect cup of coffee and the best way to start the day knowing you are not using plastic!

Perfect cup of coffee

Affiliate Link: Top rated compost bin

Affiliate Link: Nut Milk Bag

Here is my recipe:

1 cup Almonds soaked overnight or for a couple hours in steaming water

3 to 4 cups of purified water depending on thickness

Pinch of sea salt

Tablespoon vanilla extract

Place it all in a blender for two minutes on high

Once that is done, I strain it through a cheese cloth or the Nut Milk Bag option above into a pitcher and then pour the “milk” into the carafe

I then use the left over almond pulp to make crackers or I compost it in the bin I keep next to our Keurig machine.

The crackers are also super easy and here is that recipe:

Heat oven to 400 degrees

1 cup Almond pulp (which is what you get from one carafe of the almond pulp above). I use it wet from the process above and that is fine.

1 tablespoon of olive oil

¼ cup of Chia Seeds

Salt, Pepper and Garlic powder to taste (or play around with other favorite seasonings!)

I mix it up in a bowl and roll it into two balls

On a baking tray I put some parchment paper (compostable) and place the two balls touching. I take another piece of parchment paper, placing it on top and use a bottle of wine (because why buy a rolling pin when you have wine!) to roll it out.

The edges get cracked so then I fold over the edges creating a rectangle again and again until it is an even thickness about 1/8.

I cut the almond meal mixture into squares with a pizza cutter and pop them in the oven for about 30 minutes flipping once.

What are your 3 items you think you use that contribute the most plastic on a daily or weekly basis? How can you re-think how you go about acquiring those items without plastic? I would love to know.

*disclosure: Links in this blog are affiliate links, meaning I make a little bit of money but at no additional cost to you. I will earn a commission if you click through the link and make a purchase. This will help me to continue to explore and offer up recommendations to reduce your plastic usage.