Courtesy of WOWSA, Huntington Beach, California.

It took 20 years for Gary Emich to complete 1,000 crossings between Alcatraz Island and the shoreline of San Francisco in northern California.

He not only completed the crossings by steadily averaging one swim a week for 20 solid years, but he also carefully documented each and every crossing and later got a tattoo to commemorate the achievement [shown above].

He has swum in conditions that have ranged from tranquil to treacherous with only 2 weeks off for vacation per year.

Together with Joseph Oakes, Emich co-wrote Open Water Swimming – Lessons from Alcatraz. They co-wrote the book for those who are encouraged “to enjoy the wonderful feeling of success that comes from completion of the great, difficult and classic swimming challenge” of swimming from Alcatraz Island to the shoreline of San Francisco.

Alcatraz swims have been our obsession for many years,” writes the co-authors. “Read on and devour what we have prepared for you.” We read on and, in fact, very much enjoyed the insights and background to Alcatraz swims from the perspective of swimmers, escorts and race directors. We have seen too many unqualified swimmers trying unsuccessfully to swim from Alcatraz. In that time our Alcatraz Safety Crew has had to rescue well over 1,000 swimmers, many of whom should never have been out there foolishly endangering themselves and those around them. Bravado has its place, but not at Alcatraz.”

Copyright © 2015 by World Open Water Swimming Association