Cedar Valley man prepares to escape Alcatraz - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Valley man prepares to escape Alcatraz

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They say no man is an island, but Tom Beener wants to escape from one.

"You know, no one escaped from Alcatraz, all the prisoners are dead," he said. "You know, it is what it is."

Beener is 64 years old.

"Well, on the dating websites, I'm 54, but that's another conversation," he said.

He's training at the Waterloo YMCA for the swim of his life, from the island prison of Alcatraz, back to mainland California.

"A lot of people can swim 1.3 miles," Beener said. "But doing it in those water temperatures is a different experience."

So he puts in his laps, 5 days a week, back and forth in the pool, thinking of the dark and chilly water of the bay.

"A large part of this is a fear of the unknown," Beener said. "I know I'm not going to get eaten by a shark, I know I'm not going to drown, but you never know."

He prepares by sitting in bathtubs of ice, and swimming. Lots of swimming.

"A lot of people say, 'Why would you want to do this? You're nuts,'" Beener said. "Arguably, that's true."

But soon, he'll book his rescue boat as a precaution, and dive in.

"I plan on doing this in July," he said. "I just have to set a date."

And he said he's waiting for one moment of the swim in particular.

"They say one of the coolest things to do is when you're 200 yards out, turn on your back and look up at the Golden Gate Bridge," Beener said. "They say it's a sight you'll never forget."

But still, it's tough to escape the fear of the unknown.

"I think it will change me in a positive way," he said. "Knowing that I can do something I set my mind to."

"I know I'm going to survive," he said with a laugh. "But, you never know."

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