and all he had to do was swim across the SF bay from Alcatraz island.
Boy Swims From Alcatraz to San Francisco
Monday, May 22, 2006
A 7-year-old Arizona boy swam from Alcatraz Island to the city in 47 minutes Monday, then was lifted by his father from the chilly waters.
Braxton Bilbrey was joined by his coach and two other adults for the estimated 1.4-mile swim. The second-grader was greeted at the finish by reporters, photographers and well-wishers.
"I think it's pretty cool," the wetsuit-clad boy said shortly after his father grabbed him under the arms and out of the water, which was in the mid-50s Monday.
Braxton said his next ambition is to swim the English Channel. He said he ate pizza for dinner Sunday and was helped along by shouts of encouragement from his coach, Joe Zemaitis. The toughest part of the swim was the water temperature, the boy said.
Zemaitis said the boy was aided by flat water and good tides. San Francisco Bay is known for strong currents and rough waters.
Stacey Bilbrey originally wasn't sold on the idea of her son swimming from Alcatraz, but she accepted it once he proved he was dedicated to his goal.
"For a 7-year-old to be that motivated and stick with a goal that long is amazing," she said.
Alcatraz, once home to a notorious federal prison that housed some of the nation's infamous criminals, including Chicago mobster Al Capone, is now a tourist site that attracts about 1 million visitors a year. It also draws a fair share of swimmers, including Zemaitis, who attempt the crossing as part of the annual Escape from Alcatraz triathlon.
Braxton, who lives in Glendale, Ariz., got the idea when he saw a magazine story about a 9-year-old boy who made the swim. Johnny Wilson, a California fourth-grader, completed the swim in 53-degree waters last October.
"He did great," said his dad, Steve Bilbrey. "He looked so strong. He did so awesome. I'm so proud of him."