An experience that would have terrified most normal kids only fascinated me and served as the foundation for what has been a life-long bond with the ocean. Here I am (center) with my grandparents and brother in Fort Lauderdale circa 1956.
Someone landed this 10-foot bull shark off the Ft. Lauderdale Pier and hauled it into shore. Although this happened over 50 years ago, I remember it like it occurred only yesterday.
While my love affair with the ocean began that fateful day five decades ago, I didn't really discover open water swimming until I moved to San Francisco in 1990 and saw a group of folks from the legendary South End Rowing Club swimming in Aquatic Park. I went down to the shore and stuck my hand in the water to gauge the temperature. "These folks are crazy!" was my first thought, followed immediately by "I've got to try this myself." And that, as they say, was the beginning of the end when I realized I had discovered a previously unimagined passion.
In the intervening 23 years, I've never again looked at a body of water without analyzing its swimming potential. This unique perspective has manifested itself in swims that include the 12-mile Indian Ocean swim from Perth Australia to Rottnest Island; the Amazon River (replete with piranhas); Peru's Lake Titicaca (the world's highest navigable lake at 12,500 feet); the peat black waters of Scotland's legendary Loch Ness; the Turkish Hellespont (where Leander swam nightly to tryst with his love Hero); relay crossings of the English Channel, Catalina Channel, the Strait of Gibraltar, Tampa Bay, Boston Harbor, Monterey Bay (from Santa Cruz to Monterey); and the Bay of Naples, Italy; relay circumnavigations of Manhattan Island, Key West and Pennock Island Alaska; the 10-mile San Francisco Bay to Breaker swim; inter island swims in Greece, Croatia, the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas; plus swims across numerous rivers in the U.S. including the muddy Mississippi and Washington DC's Potomac.
Along with swim criminal partner, Pedro Ordenes, we became the first to make 100 Alcatraz swim crossings on June 11, 2001, the 39th anniversary escape of Frank Morris and the Anglin brothers. (click here to read Joe Oakes' classic article - The Alcatraz Centurions) And on June 11, 2007 Steven Hurwitz, Pedro & I became the first ever to make 500 individual crossings (that's 1,500 collectively). Click here or go to http://www.lanelinestoshorelines.com/ssp/news to see the various video news clips of this fantastic morning.
Finally, with all of the pleasures and adventures I've had from open water swimming, I also feel a strong need to give back to the sport. Thus, in 2006, I served as the open water swim commissioner for the South End Rowing Club; and in recent years I've obtained my certification as an American Swimming Coaches Association coach (level 2), USA Triatlon coach (level 1) and a USA Triathlon race director.