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Preparing for Alcatraz

Training, Coaching & Private Alcatraz Swims

Not sure whether you’re ready to take on the challenge of a cold and open water swim from Alcatraz?  Admittedly, it is difficult and not for beginners but each year several thousand swimmers successfully make the crossing.

At a minimum you should be able to swim a mile and a half comfortably in a pool and be prepared to swim upwards of a mile and three-quarters on race day if the currents aren’t cooperating.

Co-Race Director Gary Emich is a Level 1 USAT Certified Coach and specializes in working with:

  1. those who want to make the switch from pool to open water swimming,
  2. those who are interested in making a successful Alcatraz crossing, and
  3. older athletes who are interested in learning more about the sport of triathlon.

Gary also can arrange privately escorted Alcatraz swims for parties of two (2) to five (5).   Special Marine Event applications are prepared, submitted to and approved by the United States Coast Guard for all private swims.

In addition, Co-Race Director Joe Oakes and Gary both have written books for prospective Alcatraz swimmers, and Gary has recently released an open water swimming DVD.

Joe’s book, The Alcatraz Swimmer’s Manual, is for the heroic soul who is looking to brave the chilled and turbulent waters of San Francisco Bay. It is based on his experience of guiding more than 10,000 swimmers from Alcatraz during the past 25 years. 

Gary’s book, A Swim Criminal Looks at 100, chronicles the tremendous wealth of experience and knowledge gained from nearly 500 Alcatraz swims - without wetsuit or fins!  He recounts the mental and physical preparations necessary for a successful crossing.

Gary’s DVD, Lane Lines to Shore Lines: Your Complete Guide to Open Water Swimming,  covers an array of topics that will get you out of the pool and into the open water with the physical skills, techniques and mental confidence you need for enjoyable and efficient open water swimming.  (Watch the free trailer (click here).


And to order The Alcatraz Swimmer’s Manual, A Swim Criminal Looks at 100 or Lane Lines to Shore Lines simply click here.

To inquire about coaching or to arrange your own private Alcatraz crossing email Gary (click here) or at 650.333.7387.