Iowan escapes from Alcatraz - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowan escapes from Alcatraz

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SAN FRANCISCO (KWWL) - Tom Beener wasn't a prisoner on Alcatraz, but he made his escape all the same.

"It was over before I knew it was over," Beener, 64, said. "I was amazed."

Tuesday morning, Beener swam from the island prison of Alcatraz back to mainland California, about 1.3 miles of open water.

"It was pretty cool," he said. "I was pretty nervous and everything."

Months before the swim, Beener was training at the YMCA in Waterloo, swimming miles in the pool everyday. Then Tuesday, when he met the chilly waters of the Pacific, he was ready.

"I had a lot of support, in all fairness," he said.

He said his time surprised him -- just 37 minutes from start to finish. He expected the swim to take an hour.

"I just jumped in and started doing it," he said. "It just kind of clicked."

Before the swim, Beener said he was looking forward to seeing the looming mass of the Golden Gate Bridge rising above him. Tuesday, he said the experience was everything he hoped for.

After the swim, Beener got back into the support boat tailing him.

"How do you feel?" a friend asked him.

"I feel ok," he said. "I'm tired, but like I said, because it was the backstroke I didn't have to fight the waves."

But would he do it again? Probably not. Once was enough.

"It was just kind of surrealistic," he said. "It was just really cool. I'm surprised it went as well as it did."
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