When Ella Woodhead stepped into the frigid water on October 21 last year at Fort Point to swim across San Francisco Bay to Lime Rock on the Marin side, she had one thing on her mind: Tika Hick. Besides being Woodhead’s teacher and a face-painter extraordinaire, Hick was battling breast cancer and had just lost her fiancé in a freak accident. Woodhead made this extraordinary swim as a fundraiser. While not every kid her age is equipped to raise thousands of dollars for her favorite cause or be the youngest person to swim the Golden Gate, Woodhead proved that she is not an average 7-year-old. We caught up with Woodhead and her trusty canine companion, Drake, who swam alongside her to help her train for that foggy fall morning swim.
1. Why did you choose this course?
Because my older brothers Quinn and Dylan hadn’t done it yet.
2. When did you start swimming?
Floaties at 2 in our pool, and I started swimming for SwimMarin when I was 4. My mom swam at Stanford, and both my parents celebrate New Year’s with a swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco — so it’s in my genes.
3. What kept you going?
Thinking of Tika and her 1-year-old son, Indie.
4. What is most challenging?
Jumping in the cold water.
5. What’s the best part about swimming with Drake?
He scares away any creatures.
6. What is your next swimming goal?
To break a team record this summer in backstroke.
7. Other hobbies?
Reading, cooking and learning to play the guitar.
8. Bieber fan?
No way. I’m more of a Project Runway fan.
9. Your favorite restaurant in Marin?
Pinky’s Pizza in San Rafael. I order the cheese pizza and a salad.
10. Favorite place to shop?
Andy’s Market in San Rafael or the Farmers’ Market at the Civic Center on Sunday.
11. What do you want to be when you grow up?
A computer teacher.
12. Where do you want to go to college?
Stanford, but if my Dad asks, I might say Cal.