Aidan Schramm and Maddy Kovacs, students from Kyrene Altadeña Middle School, are preparing to swim from Alcatraz Island to shore at the San Francisco Aquatic Park.
The two Ahwatukee Foothills students are raising money for their endeavor to support the Foundation for Aquatic Safety and Training (FAST) and have combined to bring in more than $2,000 from family, friends and community members.
On Saturday, April 16, Schramm, 12, and Kovacs, 12, will swim about 1.5 miles with a group of other students through the frigid water of San Francisco Bay.
"I was a little nervous at first but now that it's getting closer and I've been training, I am actually really excited," Schramm said.
Water temperatures in San Francisco Bay can reach the low 50s. They have done their best to create a similar experience by swimming in Barlett Lake, about 45 miles north of Phoenix.
"It's so cold that the parts of your face that aren't covered by your mask or goggles go numb," Kovacs said. "Our coach tells us to take 30 strokes without stopping to get everything going."
The day after the "Escape from Alcatraz" swim, Schramm will be swimming the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, another 1.5 miles.
"They told us to expect it to be cold and it might be difficult because of the currents," he said. "It's going to be fun but also sort of hard because of the currents."
They are members of the Swim Neptune competitive team. They are currently practicing four days a week with the team at about two hours per day.
"Some days you have a lot of energy and you are just so excited to get in the pool and swim," Kovacs said. "Other days are kind of rough, but you do it anyway."
The FAST organization provides swimming safety lessons to families with young children. Part of the money raised will go to teach water safety to refugee children who have been relocated to the Phoenix area. Once the kids have done the Alcatraz swim, they can volunteer to help with those lessons.
"They're raising the money for the foundation but they are using their abilities," Sharon Schramm said. "They are helping them learn to swim and at the same time they are using the story to say, ‘Hey, look what I did.'"
To find out more about FAST, visit www.theFastFoundation.com.
Donations are still being accepted to help the cause. Kovas' webpage can be found at www.active.com/donate/swimfast2011/maddy-kovacs and Schramm's is at www.active.com/donate/swimfast2011/AidanSchramm.
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