Escape from Alcatraz (By Jessica Shafran, Advancement Associate)

Evelyn and Mary Claire Fusiler learned of the infamous escape attempts from "The Rock" a.k.a., Alcatraz Prison, when attending Stanford Swim Camp. Being near San Francisco recently, they were inspired to see if they had the skill to complete the famous swim with its strong current and cold water temperatures.

"It was definitely a very nerve-wracking undertaking with an element of danger, but once we got used to the cold then it became a lot less stressful," Mary Claire said. "The biggest challenge was the water temperature, (59 degrees) but luckily we had wetsuits to keep us a bit warmer."

Before attempting the Alcatraz swim, which is approximately 1.6 miles, the farthest they had ever swum was about a mile at City Park when they were training for it. The sisters have been swimming for a total of 12 years on various teams around Austin. This year, they are starting their third season for St. Michael's. Mary Claire swims the 500 FR and the 100 FLY, while Evelyn swims the 200 BR and 100 BR. 

They were dropped off in a boat next to Alcatraz around 8:00 a.m. Joined by their Mom, herself a master swimmer, they had good visibility without the typical San Francisco fog. Their family was there to cheer them on in a boat alongside. All three completed the swim in 45 minutes - quite a feat for a swim that can take some athletes up to an hour.

"We reached shore after 1.6 miles in 45 minutes feeling tired but accomplished. Due to COVID-19, there weren't any Alcatraz Sharkfest swims this year, but we were still able to swim in just a group of three with a guide," Mary Claire said.
    • Mary Claire at Ft. Baker near Golden Gate Bridge.

    • Mary Claire and Evelyn in open water.

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