In 2011, Levy Gerzberg retired from his job. At that point of time, his family asked him what plans he had in mind as he would have a lot more free time. Since then, Levy had been thinking of what he wanted to do with his new found leisure time. Eventually, he came up with a goal: “I’m going to swim from Alcatraz. Give me one month,” he said to his family.
Although Alcatraz is one and a half miles from the shore, the rough currents can make the swim much more longer and challenging than it seems. In fact, it is considered to be much harder compared to many other open water swims. After an online search, Levy managed to find a suitable swimming instructor to help him accomplish his goal. Pedro Ordenes is a Chilean-born swim coach who has swum both the Strait of Magellan in 39-degree waters as well as Alcatraz to Aquatic Park over 900 times without a wet suit.
After training with Pedro for about four months, Levy managed to accomplish his first Alcatraz swim. In fact, he has gone on to complete the swim at least fifteen times. Nine of those were formal swims while the remaining six were group swims. “You feel this challenge and freedom while you’re touching nature. In the ocean, in particular, you feel like you’re out of this universe. You’re just miniscule in this huge body of water. It’s a fantastic feeling,” explained Levy.
As Levy is a native from Israel, he came up with an idea of a charity swim in Tel Aviv. In May, a total of 400 people swam in the Mediterranean to raise money to support children in need. They swam various distances ranging from 1km to 4.5km to 10km. Levy along with the rest of the organisers are already making plans for another charity swim in Israel next year.
According to Pedro, Levy is a really good swimmer for someone his age and also an inspiration to younger swimmers out there. “There’s something incredible about his stamina and also his focus in taking the challenge of any condition in the bay. He’s always positive, always encouraging and always very open to receiving the proper advice. He is very unusual, as I have had hundreds of much younger swimmers who are still struggling with trying to become fully capable of taking these challenging swims. He not only attracts the young athlete but also has taught me so many things, like, no matter how big you might get in life, and how many accomplishments you have, you still must remain humble and share with everyone,” stated a proud instructor. For more of the story, you can read it here.