On the Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim main page there’s a special note that would scare off plenty of swimmers: “This swim is not for novices. This event is for experienced open-water swimmers only. You should be able to swim one mile comfortably in a pool in under 40 minutes.”
But for two Monta Vista High School graduates—Sean Hughes and Nicolet Danese— the tricky tides, chilly water and caution are no deterrent for the event they hope will raise money for the .
These words on the swimmers’ “Swimming For Freeman” website sum up what and why the grads are diving in: “Ron Freeman was an aquatics coach, an athletic director, and a teacher. Most importantly, Ron was all the spaces in between. Freeman served as an inspiration in all dimensions of his life, and within all actions he completed and sponsored, he had one common vision: that he, and the people around him, aspired to transcend to being a champion.”
, worked at Monta Vista for more than 30 years.
“(Freeman) was a man who meant more to us than words can truly describe. To keep his legacy, and memory alive, we are doing this swim to raise money for the scholarship foundation,” Danese said.
This is Danese’s second year swimming Alcatraz in Freeman’s honor, she placed second in her division last year, and the other two 2011 swimmers competing in Freeman’s honor, Andrew Stewart and Sonika Singh, placed first and third, respectively, in their divisions. This will be Hughes’ first Alcatraz swim.
He’s not done any open water swimming, he says, but trains regularly and hopes to get in at least one practice run before the July 28 event.
“To be frank I’m not concerned with finishing, we’re gonna finish, it’s just a matter of how fast we want to go,” Hughes said.
He’ll be pacing those strokes on the day after his 19th birthday, something he sees as a fitting tribute to a man he calls a mentor.
“I think of him as a mentor in every sense of the word. We would see him so often he would be like a second family. We were not afraid to talk to him about anything,” Hughes said.
A 2011 graduate of Monta Vista, Hughes was a captain of the boys varsity water polo team and a four-year member of the varsity swim team, he now attends Boston University.
“It’s weird being home and not seeing him around,” he said.
Donations can be made securely online at “Swimming For Freeman” where more information on the swimmers, scholarship and swim event can be found.