By Kathy Walsh
BOW MAR, Colo. (CBS4) – On Saturday, Sept. 29, 17 Coloradans will attempt to escape from Alcatraz in their own way. They’ll join about 800 others in the 23rd Annual Alcatraz Invitational.
It is a 1.27 mile swim in the San Francisco Bay from the old island prison to San Francisco.
The Colorado team includes a teenager and the oldest woman to swim the event this year. They call themselves the “Wine Sharks.”
They have been training for months. But this isn’t a competition, it’s about camaraderie.
CBS4 Health Specialist Kathy Walsh caught up with some team members splashing around Bow Mar Lake for the last time before their swim of a lifetime.
“We’ve been lifelong swimmers,” said Phyllis Chrisman.
So, Phyllis and 16 others are challenging themselves.
“Going out with 600 to 800 other people, jumping off a ferry that’s like 10 feet high into 60 degree water,” said Heather Fleck.
“I’m a little worried about the sharks and the waves and the distance, but, other than that, and jumping off the ferry,” said Nicole Ridley with a laugh.
Mike Lanam isn’t concerned. This is his second Alcatraz Invitational. He swam the event last year for his 65th birthday and inspired the others. This year, he is also coach and cheerleader.
“Mostly their cheerleader. They’re very good swimmers,” said Lanam.
James Chrisman is taking the plunge with his mom, Phyllis.
“A fun memory for us to both have as I go off to college,” said the high school senior.
Seventeen-year-old James is the youngest member on the team. Sally Duncan is 78, and the oldest woman to enter the event overall! She says she has been by, in or on water all her life. Team members call her awesome and an inspiration.
“I’m going to finish. I’m steady as she blows is my swim stroke,” she laughed.
Sally’s swim is dedicated to both her father and her late husband, Raymond, founder of Silver Oak Winery.
“Just because they’re the two loves of my life,” Sally explained.
The swimmers expect to be both elated and relieved when it’s over. And with Alcatraz behind them, they’ll be pondering their next escape.