Men to brave freezing waters, sharks in Alcatraz swim

JC AMBERLYN/ Miner <br> <br>
Matt Hoyng (left) and Russ Eidman take a break between laps at the Del E. Webb Wellness and Rehabilitation Center. The two friends are training to swim in the 6th Annual Alcatraz 100 “Swim with the Centurions” race on July 26. The race will cover the 1.25 miles from Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco shore.

JC AMBERLYN/ Miner <br> <br> Matt Hoyng (left) and Russ Eidman take a break between laps at the Del E. Webb Wellness and Rehabilitation Center. The two friends are training to swim in the 6th Annual Alcatraz 100 “Swim with the Centurions” race on July 26. The race will cover the 1.25 miles from Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco shore.

Matt Hoyng and Russ Eidman are making a break for it.

The two men have been swimming five days a week, two miles a day for the past two months in order to swim 1.25 miles, against strong currents, in 50 degree, shark-infested water from Alcatraz Island to the San Francisco shore.

"I'd just like to say that I did it. It's on my bucket list," Eidman said, referring to the recent movie. Hoyng agreed.

The two men heard friends talking about the race and the fact that they planned to enter. Hoyng and Eidman thought it might be fun thing to do as well.

"We both come from swimming backgrounds, and it was a good reason to get into shape," Hoyng said. He's lost about 13 pounds in two months.

The men train at the Del E. Webb Wellness and Rehabilitation Center where Eidman is the aquatics manager and the coach for the Kingman Dolphins Swim Team.

Hoyng works as an engineer at JM Manufacturing. The two have competed in open water swimming competitions before, but not like this one. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the water surrounding Alcatraz averages between 50 and 55 degrees and strong currents sweep through the area.

Both men plan to wear wetsuits during the race.

"It's very much different from swimming in a pool," Eidman said. "The water is flatter (calmer) and much warmer in a pool."

"You have to pick out a marker or a spot on the shore to watch. There's no bottom and no lane lines out there," Hoyng said.

They plan to practice open-water swimming near Davis Dam in Bullhead City in order to get use to some of the conditions they might face in San Francisco Bay.

The race, according to the Alcatraz 100 Club's Web site, was started about five years ago and was designed to encourage swimmers around the world to attempt the cold-water swim from the prison. It is limited to 400 swimmers.

The club recommends that entrants train to swim for two miles, because of the currents and the difficult of swimming in a straight line from the island to the shore. Spotters in kayaks float on either side of the race in order to provide instant assistance to swimmers.

According to the Web site, race times run between just over 30 minutes to just over an hour. Hoyng and Eidman are aiming for around 30 minutes.

The club, itself, was inspired by a group of San Francisco Bay swimmers that swam the distance at least 100 times.