Men Planning 1000th (You Read That Right) Swim To Alcatraz Tuesday

Not many people can say they’ve swam from San Francisco to Alcatraz but open water swimmers Gary Emich and Steven Hurwitz will mark their 1,000th solo crossings of the Bay Tuesday morning.

Both men have been training together year-round at the South End Rowing Club three times a week for the past decade. They also hold records for Alcatraz crossings in riptide currents.

“Even after a thousand times you still have to say to yourself ‘you’ve done this yourself you’re going to be OK,’” Hurwitz said.

Hurwitz, 52, holds the record for the fastest two-way swim from San Francisco to Alcatraz in 56 minutes.

Emich, 62, has swum throughout the world including in the Amazon River, Loch Ness in Scotland, Lake Titicaca in Peru and Cave of Indians in Cuba.

Both men will be swimming in a swimming cap and trunks as opposed to a wetsuit.

They will be swimming in one of the harder courses because of the ebb tide, which tends to push swimmers away from their course, Hurwitz said.

The swim also marks the 51st anniversary since the escape of Frank Morris and brothers Clarence and John Anglin.

Morris and the Anglins escaped from their cells by digging spoons into the ground and making a raft from 50 raincoats. The men were never found and the case remains unsolved.

Attendees at Tuesday’s swim include Joe Oakes, original creator of the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, and Robert “Napa Bob” Roper, a retired San Francisco police officer, swim coach and record holder for the fastest swim at the Golden Gate Bridge.

Donations for Hospice of the Bay, the San Francisco Bay Keeper Foundation and the South End Rowing Club will be accepted at the event.

The 1.5-mile swim will begin at the east side of Alcatraz Island around 8 a.m. and reach Aquatic Park between 8:30 a.m. and 8:40 a.m.

A few friends that swam with the men in past races will be swimming behind them Tuesday morning, Hurwitz said.

Hurwitz said no two swims are the same. “Once you jump it’s a commitment to yourself that you’re going to see through it,” he said.

Jamey Padojino, Bay City News

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