Two Ventura twin brothers completed, two weeks ago, what more than three dozen federal prisoners were unable to do for years — swim successfully from Alcatraz Island to the shores of San Francisco.
Rick and Robert Bagott, both 17, finished 30th and 31st, respectively, after competing in the Alcatraz Challenge on May 30. Both teens, born on Dec. 31, 1992, finished the 1.5-mile swim, a fundraising event for the Brain Injury Association, in under 40 minutes, raising more than $1,335 in sponsored money.
“We were only like 15 seconds apart,” said Rick.
It was a daunting task that’s become the stuff of legend in movies and TV, with the patient-yet-determined prisoner who fashions an escape plan from the impregnable Alcatraz fortress and, using papier-mâché dummy heads and makeshift life rafts, attempts to cross the treacherous and choppy bay waters to freedom. Until the prison’s closure in 1962, there were several escape attempts, with no known survivors.
The Bagott teens attribute their success, however, to periods of intense training with Bill Escobar, a former Iron Man who swam with Rick and Robert during the last few months in Carpinteria. The waters there were a good place to practice, they agreed, because of their similarities to the San Francisco Bay.
The competition was made easier because both Rick and Robert, who attend Foothill High School, are already experienced swimmers in their own rights since they swim for Buena High School.
The brothers chalked up their slick speed in the water to a conservative swimmers’ strategy.
“They told us to shoot for this radio tower,” said Rob. “They said the medium swimmers should swim to it. We swam to the right of it. We ended up getting closer to the shore than we should have.”
The boys, who raised their donations through friends and family members, said they would like to attempt the swim again in the future. Both Rick and Robert are also considering participating in triathlons and other swim competitions.
To make a donation, checks should be written to “Brain Injury Association of America” and can be sent to c/o Bagott Alcatraz Swim, 1056 E. Meta St., Suite 202, Ventura, CA 93001.