Saturday, July 12, 2014

3 sightless athletes swim from Alcatraz to SF

September 30. 2013 2:39PM
Associated Press

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(AP) Max Ashton had one goal before heading off to college: swim from Alcatraz Island to Aquatic Park in San Francisco.

The blind, 17-year-old high school senior in Phoenix, Ariz., completed the trek on Sunday along with two other sightless swimmers.

"It's just good to show people I can do everything, really," Ashton told the San Francisco Chronicle ( after he made the 1.25-mile swim across San Francisco Bay. Ashton has previously climbed Mount Kilimanjaro, crossed the Grand Canyon and thrown out the first pitch at a major league ball game.

He was accompanied on the swim by 24-year-old Tanner Robinson, who works in state government in Arizona, and 19-year-old Katie Cuppy, a freshman at Northern Arizona University.

The three blind athletes were guided by sighted swimmers Mike and Paul Tiffany, both of Phoenix.

The challenge when swimming blind is staying on course. But Robinson said there's also an advantage

"The nice thing about being blind is you don't know where the finish line is," he said. "It was just like another training."

Robinson trained for the swim at Lake Pleasant in Arizona. He finished it in an hour and 16 minutes.

Cuppy came in eight minutes after him.

Ashton finished the swim in a little more than 50 minutes. He was born with a rare eye disease that left him with only a fraction of his peripheral vision, The Arizona Republic reported (

The event was organized by the Foundation for Blind Children in Phoenix, which also organized the Mount Kilimanjaro and Grand Canyon trips, according to the Republic.

Robinson told the newspaper the swim showed there are no barriers for people with visual impairments.

"Hopefully, there are people out there who will (see this and) take more challenges themselves just in their daily lives," he said.

Associated Press

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