Most people mark a birthday by going out to dinner or eating a bunch of cake. Bill Piatt (pictured), professor and former dean at St. Mary’s University School of Law, decided to celebrate his 63rd year on the planet by attempting a swim that’s taken the life of many an escaped convict: a 1.25-mile stretch of water between Alcatraz Island and Aquatic Park in San Francisco.
Piatt, a runner and former competitive high school swimmer, was looking for a way to mark his Oct. 10 birthday.
“That seemed like an appropriate challenge,’’ he says of his participation a week earlier in the 11th Annual Alcatraz Classic: Swim with the Centurions.
It’s not the distance that makes the swim challenging. It’s the extremely choppy, cold water and strong currents that make for danger. Piatt says he trained in a 50-meter outdoor pool in San Anontio. Since that obviously didn’t match the conditions off Alcatraz Island, he threw in some practice swims in the Atlantic Ocean and Lake Erie while on vacation.
Piatt says former 11-time Olympic medalist swimmer Matt Biondi and seven-time Olympic medalist swimmer Aaron Piersol joined him for the Alcatraz swim.
“They beat me, by the way,” Piatt says. “It took me 53 minutes, and I finished ahead of about two-thirds of the pack.’’
-- John Council