9-year-old makes Alcatraz swim

Freer eyes triathlon in same frigid waters
By: Justin A. Lawson Journal Staff Writer
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In Alcatraz?s 30 years of active use, 36 inmates tried to escape from the notorious prison. The Anglin brothers, John and Clarence, and fellow inmate Frank Morris might be the only ones to have successfully escaped Alcatraz but even their disappearance is surrounded in mystery. The trio though would likely be amazed at the feat of Jordan Freer. The 9-year-old Lotus resident made the 1.5-mile swim last month from just off the shore of Alcatraz Island to Crissy Beach as part of the Orca Alcatraz Swim Challenge. ?It was cold and it was really, really choppy,? Freer said. ?Sometimes it was hard to breathe because we were swimming freestyle and you turn your head to breathe and sometimes if you turned it at the wrong time then you would just get a mouth full of water.? Freer is thought to be the youngest female to make the trek through the chilly waters. A 7-year-old boy from Arizona made the swim in 2006. While some parents may still cringe when their children hit the local pool, Freer?s dad, Tom Freer, ensured she was safe. He also made the swim and stayed with her stride for stride while a team of boats stayed by the entire field that would whisk a swimmer out of the water if they grew tired. ?Our biggest danger was not making it, of not meeting our goal,? Tom Freer said. ?To me, that weighed the most heavily on my mind because we set out to do this thing, what if we don?t make it?? The duo made the swim in less than 55 minutes. The swim also helped raise about $3,000 for the Nothing But Nets campaign, which helps fight malaria in Africa. Freer?s swim is obviously something to marvel at but her father said he hopes a parent doesn?t take it too far. ?I kind of get that people don?t glorify it because where is it going to stop?? said Freer, who runs the American River Touring Association on the south fork. ?Someone will do something for the wrong reasons or they?ll push their kid into something they?re not capable of doing and it will just go wrong.? The younger Freer has proven to be a more than capable swimmer. She has swum competitively since she was 4 years old and attends practice six days a week. She prepared for the Alcatraz swim for months before the event with her father. While she just wrapped up third grade Wednesday and has a hectic schedule already for her age, she already has her mind set on her next goal. ?I told my dad I might want to try the triathlon,? said Freer, referring to the Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon. ?I really like all the sports that are in the triathlon, swimming, biking and running but I might just do it (the swim) a few more times and wait until I?m a little bit older to do the triathlon because it?s a really long distance.?