Kingman swimmers prepare to meet the Rock
KINGMAN - Swimming in Lake Mohave during the months of December through March sounds extreme. So does swimming from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco.
A group of young swimmers from Kingman did the Escape from the Rock swim almost a year ago, and they're ready to do it again.
Jake Miyauchi, 13, and Victoria and Sophia Depner, both 11, have been training for another swim across the San Francisco Bay April 16. This year, Makayla Newberry, 14, and Aden Dunton, 10, join them.
Despite some misgivings, the newcomers are eager to reach their goal.
"I just like it," Makayla said. "But I am terrified of the sharks."
That set off a battle of wits between Mikayla and Jake. He said there have only been rare sightings of sharks in the bay. According to a San Francisco Examiner article in May 2010, five out of 78 tagged sharks entered the bay between 2006 and 2008.
Any talk of sharks doesn't thwart these kids' desire to make it across the 1.4-mile swim.
"It'll be a great accomplishment," Aden said.
Along with their adult escorts, Terry Miyauchi and Eric Depner, the five kids swam from Telephone Cove on the Nevada side of Lake Mohave to Telephone Cove in Arizona. It's exactly 1.4 miles, the same as the Alcatraz swim.
Terry said the swim is ideal for duplicating the conditions the swimmers will find when swimming San Francisco Bay. He said the water was cold and choppy, and they had to learn to navigate.
While swimming at Lake Mohave, the kids also learned the carp that swim those waters will eat anything.
"We fed the fish butter, ketchup, salt and pepper and french fries," Jake said. "There were lots of fish and rocks."
The group has also swam at Lake Bartlett, which taught them to swim in murky conditions of less than five feet of visibility just like San Francisco Bay.
The group has had some help in their training. When they crossed Lake Mohave, KRMC lifeguard Ed Kuntz paddled a canoe, members from the DPS Air Rescue group kayaked alongside, and Mertens Heavy Equipment Repair provided a pontoon boat to both ferry the swimmers and provide an escort.
When the group completes the Alcatraz swim, they won't have much time to rest. The very next day, they'll complete the Crossing the Great Gate Swim, a 1.2-mile swim under the span of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Swimming those distances takes a lot of effort, but it's not the most challenging aspect of the group's experience.
"The worst part is getting the wetsuits off," Makayla said. "The longer you're in them, the harder they are to get off."