Escape from Alcatraz - The Update

The Update

Been there, seen it, done it, got the t-shirt. Well three out of four ain’t bad for your correspondent, The Old Fool.

Been to San Francisco, seen Alcatraz, done it by escaping by swimming back to shore but, alas, no t-shirt as a reward.

I am delighted to say that as I am able to pen these words I successfully completed the Alcatraz swim and in the process raised over £4,200.00 for Diabetes UK. Thank you so much to all those very generous people who supported the cause.

A foggy morning greeted me and my fellow swimmers raising concerns that the swim might be postponed or, worse, cancelled but thankfully the gloom lifted enough for us to get the green light.

After a detailed briefing by the swim guide, Warren, and a boat trip out to Alcatraz we were set to go. Looking back at the San Francisco sky line it was at then that the realisation dawned on me that I was actually going to have to do this thing. What all those months ago had seemed like a jolly jape was now a reality. There was of course no going back so, on a wing and a prayer, I launched myself off the boat and into the cold, green waters of the Bay.

The swim itself started by lulling me into a false sense of security as the fabled currents seemed to have taken a holiday and the first third of the distance was completed relatively quickly. “What’s all the fuss?” I thought to myself. But then I quickly learned what indeed the fuss was all about as suddenly I was no longer in complete control of my destiny. As the water around me gathered pace I found myself having to adjust my course every few strokes to make sure I kept heading in the right direction. The sighting point was a huge World War Two destroyer the SS Jeremiah O’Brien docked at Fisherman’s Wharf. At least I thought it was meant to be docked but with the currents swirling around me it seemed to be moving all over the place.

After what seemed to be an age, and was in fact an hour and forty minutes, the harbour wall at the Maritime National Historical Park loomed into view. The end was in sight. After a short chat with an inquisitive sea-lion which I swear gave me with a questioning look as if to say “What’s all the fuss about? I do this swim every day of my life.” I rounded the harbour wall and headed to the shore where I was greeted by …er… no-one. My wife, daughter and our friends and families had yet to make it round to the shore from the boat.

So no fireworks, no marching bands or ticker tape parade. But none of that mattered. I’d made it! The sense of relief and achievement was palpable. The swim will remain with me forever but as importantly reminded me of the absolute necessity to take such opportunities when they come along as you never know what hand life will deal you (as my daughter found out).