Florida man celebrates 87th birthday with swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco's Aquatic Park

Byby Lonni Rivera KGO logo
Thursday, July 27, 2017
VIDEO: 87-year-old adventurer makes swim from Alcatraz to Aquatic Park
87-year-old Bob Beach celebrated his birthday by swimming from Alcatraz to Aquatic Park.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- One retired Florida judge left the warm waters of the gulf to take a dip in the chilly waters of San Francisco Bay. Bob Beach turned 87 years old on Tuesday.

Beach has spent much of his adult life in the ocean. So for his birthday, the Florida judge, grandfather, and all around athlete swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco's Aquatic Park.

VIDEO: Man swims from Alcatraz to SF for 87th birthday

Most people like to celebrate their birthdays with a good meal and friends. This retired Florida judge had a bigger goal in mind for his 87th - swim from Alcatraz to San Francisco's Aquatic Park!

"Water has been a big part of my life," he said.

Beach grew up in Santa Monica and worked as bartender to pay for law school. Now as a retired judge, he thrives on athletic adventures.

"Swimming makes you emotionally very tranquil," he said.

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The irony is not lost in the location of the swim from an infamous prison.

"When I send those guys away, I can tell them I relate to them," he said with a laugh.

If Beach's birthday swim hasn't exhausted you, know that he's also hiked Mount Kilimanjaro, did a parachute jump in Africa, and his next swim is underneath the Golden Gate Bridge.

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His buddy, also named Bob, holds the all-time record for swimming the span of the Golden Gate at 17 minutes and 21 seconds. When talking about Beach's upcoming swim, Bob said, "Well, I hope he doesn't break my record!"

Back to this swim - the finish time was 46 minutes at 67 strokes a minute. Impressive for any age given how cold the water is.

Rivera: "You didn't have a wetsuit on. How did you do that?"

Beach: "I don't know old age, I guess. To say that you swam from Alcatraz on your 87th birthday and you made it. Are you kidding? I'll never have a birthday like this."