KINGMAN - The five inmates who escaped from the U.S. Federal Penitentiary on Alcatraz Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay were never captured - most likely because they didn't survive the swim to the mainland. On April 10, four members of the Kingman Dolphins Swim Team will attempt to make their own escape from the island.
Twin sisters Sophia and Victoria Depner, 11, Kaden Weaver, 10, and Jacob Miyauchi, 13, have been training over the past four months to conquer the infamous 1.4-mile swim.
"It's a challenge I can live up to, and it would be great to tell people I swam from Alcatraz to the mainland," Kaden said. "I've been in cold water for a few months now, and I don't want to get out now."
The four Dolphins have trained in Bartlett Lake and lakes Mohave and Havasu to prepare for the treacherous trip across the bay. These lakes provided ideal bay-like training conditions in the winter months, with water temperatures averaging from the high-40s to the mid-50s.
The current in San Francisco Bay is strong, and Lake Mohave provided the best practice, they said. On one practice swim, a storm came over the lake and the winds created swells with white caps. All four gained the confidence needed to meet the challenge ahead of them, they said.
Sharks could be a concern, but not for these kids.
"Sharks are just a rumor started by the prison guards so the prisoners wouldn't try to swim from Alcatraz," Kaden said.
The Dolphins are making the swim with The Foundation for Aquatic Safety and Training. According to its Web site, www.thefastfoundation.com, the organization's vision is to empower "competitive swimmers to be ambassadors of water safety, reaching out to the next generation of young people with events designed to keep water safety and drowning prevention in the media spotlight year-round. By challenging a group of committed individuals with a charge to reach out and save lives, we will make a difference in the lives of all of our young people. FAST enables swimmers to teach swimming to small groups of high-risk children and organize, promote, and execute water safety events in schools and pools in every community."
Doing the Alcatraz swim isn't enough for Jacob. The following day, he will attempt the Golden Gate Swim, a 1.2-mile journey underneath the famous span.
For these Dolphins, it's more than a challenge; it's about the fun.
"It's the water," Sophia said. "It's fun because I like the water."