In just over a week, LFE’s Business Development Manager Paul Urwin will be attempting the Alcatraz Swim in an attempt to raise money for North East charity If U Care Share Foundation.
The mile and a half swim through the cold and treacherous waters of San Francisco Bay was made infamous during the period in which Alcatraz operated as a federal prison (1934–1963).
It proved the ultimate deterrent to escape for nearly three decades, until on June 11 1962, Frank Morris and John and Clarence Anglin famously chipped through their cement cell walls to effect a getaway that required squeezing through a ventilation shaft, climbing to the roof, shimmying down a drainpipe and scaling a 15-foot fence.
Once into the frigid waters they disappeared into the night, wearing only lifejackets they made from stolen rain coats. They were never found, seen, or heard from again.
And now some forty years on, Urwin is attempting to ‘Escape from Alcatraz’ to follow in the footsteps of numerous open water swimmers who have achieved this feat in the ensuing years.
“I expect the swim to be testing,”
“I’ll be in a wet suit but even so, it’s open water swimming and you have to factor in the effects the cold and the currents could have.” said Paul.
“All in all I’d expect to be in the water for somewhere approaching an hour – it’ll take me from the Island of Alcatraz to the safety of San Francisco harbour.”
“I hope people are able to sponsor me because it really is a great cause. If U Care Share does fantastic work with young people around mental health issues and works regularly with LFE.”
Crucially Paul won’t be alone in his quest and will be accompanied by guide Gary Emich, who alongside Pedro Ordenes, became the first swimmer to successfully complete the swim 100 times!
“It’s great going in the water knowing that there will be someone there as experienced as Gary who has done this so many times before,” added Urwin.
“A few people have been winding me up about the prospect of coming face to face with a shark and that adds to the butterflies but on a serious note it’s a great chance for me to do something that hopefully people can support for a very worthy cause.”