Escape from Spike Island

MANY of its inmates would have contemplated it over the years, but one man added the swim from Spike Island to Cobh to his list of aquatic achievements.

Gary Emich, 61, known as Mr Alcatraz among open water swimmers, became only the fifth swimmer in the world to earn the “triple crown” of prison swims having previously completed swims in Robben and Alcatraz Islands.

Over the past 18 years he has recorded 801 Alcatraz swims without the use of wetsuits or fins. His log book was recently requested for permanent display in the International Swimming Hall of Fame. Gary was also one of the swim organisers who helped commercialise the Alcatraz swim in San Franscisco.

Mr Emich was in Cork over the weekend to carry out his own “escape from Spike Island” swim. The swim is an increasingly popular open water swim on the Cork calendar. Each year more than 25 swimmers walk into the sea from Spike Island, swim past Haulbowline Island, cross the shipping channel and exit up the long steps just below the Heritage Centre in Cobh.

Mr Emich has now joined the company of four swimmers from Cork — Mike Harris, Steven Black, Joe Donnelly and Ned Denison — who established the triple crown standard based on their Spike, Robben and Alcatraz Island swims.

* The 4th Annual Escape from Spike swim will take place on August 7 at 10.30am. This is a one mile (distance varies due to tides and currents) open water swim from Spike Island in Cork harbour to Cobh.

Entry is limited to 35 swimmers due to the volume of safety cover required.

For more details about the upcoming Escape from Spike Island swim email

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