Has any doper done the Alcatraz swim?

Just curious if anybody here has actually done the swim that are occasionally done from Alcatraz or a boat just off shore to the bay. I’m asking because I was watching this TV show (What could possibly go wrong) where a guy bet his buddy he could do it because his body ran hot. They claimed he made a I think a 1.25 mile swim in around 50 minutes but they never said he was really into open water swimming so I got the feeling it was really, really, fake. (More hilariously they kept his “core” temperature with an in ear thermometer and said his body temperature dropped by 15 degrees F which is probably just the temp of some cold water in his ear. Isn’t a 15 degree drop enough so you’d look dead?)

Anyway if anybody has done it what was it like? (I’m guessing you need A LOT of training to pull it off.)

Nope, never done time.

Never done, but plenty of people have. Fifty minutes for a 1.25 mile swim is pretty slow for someone who would have trained.

I’ve never heard of any open water swimmer using a thermometer in their ear, if someone does that they tend to swallow one. I think the water temps of the bay are in the mid to upper 60s, which is cold to swim in, but not too bad once one gets warmed up. I believe most competition pools are in the 75-77 degree range, while the English Channel is usually in the upper 50s.

I’d like to try something like that, but being I’m on the other side of the country it’s not something I’m likely to do any time soon. There is some info here, and some people don’t seem to be wearing wet suits. I don’t think a lot of training is needed, just the ability to swim for 45 minutes or so.

I did see a similar event when I googled for it. I was kind of curious how much training goes into getting ready for it. FWIW they said the water temps at the time were in the 50’s so that gave me the impression seeing those events that it’s do-able but you had better have trained for it. (Kind of like a marathon is do-able but it takes a bit of training finish one. Not, well I’ve got stamina so I can get up off a couch and run one.) Oh, they also said he lost his bearings and I think they said he swam in circles so I figured this was the standard “reality show fakery” but maybe I’m just too jaded.

I did it once, years ago. The current can be very strong, and sometimes you are essentially “swimming in place”. I was doing lots of triathlons then, so this was just another training swim, albeit a tough one. I wore a wetsuit.

BTW, a 50 minute swim would be pretty good for that distance under typical conditions. I don’t remember my time in that particular event, but I am (was!) a pretty good swimmer and can (could!) usually do a mile in about 25 minutes, under good conditions.

If the guy did not train at all, I would be suspect of even finishing, much less finishing in that time, unless conditions were especially good.

Well it’s hard to know how much training he had. He did it with no wetsuit though. (Thanks for reminding me.) Also to “Simulate” what a prisoner would have he cut out “fins” from aluminum dinner trays that he duck-taped to his feet. (Kind of surprised those home made fins didn’t cut through the tape.) Oh, they did say he was swimming during slack tide so he didn’t get swept out to sea.


Unless you really knew what you were doing, I think that would be more hinderance than help.

Most dopers can barely get off their couch :stuck_out_tongue:

in the 50s is way cold. That takes a lot of getting used to, I wouldn’t want to do it without a wetsuit. I don’t do very well in cold water, especially that cold. That guy didn’t seem to have any training then, learning to sight is one of the first things he should have worked on. Plus if there were people with him that’s part of their job to keep him on track.

It’s a mile and a half swim. Seems 50 minutes would be in the last 2/3s of the people who raced according to the Swim Shark results.

What was the name of the show? I’d be interested in see it.

I’m doing it on August 21. Bump this thread on the 22 and I’ll tell you how it went.

What could possibly go wrong, here’s a link


I’ll try, hopefully I remember.

How so? It seems to me any fins are better than no fins.

Damn, I don’t get that channel, but I see his problems. The back stroke, as was said, he’s losing his landmarks, if you’re going to do that, it’s to rest for a few minutes. Those flippers probably aren’t helping as they need to be flexible, if they’re not they make it harder to kick.

I can’t believe he didn’t make it anywhere in that boat, he had a paddle, he should have at least tried with that.



August coming up, not August already past. :wink:

I have some friends that have done the “Escape From Alcatraz” triathlon. Fun fact, there are divers and boats that pull you out of the water if you get swept past a certain point, due to the possibility of sharks.

That’s the one I’m doing! Should be interesting.