Savage. A fitting last name for a nine-year-old boy who just set a world record for becoming the youngest person to conquer the treacherous swim from San Francisco’s Aquatic Park to Alcatraz Island and back—a total distance of just over two miles.
Central California’s James Savage – at just 4-foot-6 and 57 pounds – completed the grueling open water challenge in just over two hours, breaking the record previously set by a 10-year-old boy last year. A crew of paddlers stayed by his side from start to finish.
James told KSEE the waves in the San Francisco Bay kept hitting him in the face 30 minutes into his swim, making him consider giving up. But he didn’t. He braved the cold water, relentless currents, and the very real threat of large great white sharks, emerging a true champion.
“I wanted to turn back and they kept yelling, ‘I believe you can do it,'” said James. “I thought it was going to be easy at first. And after I got out there, the tide was pushing me all around. I was about to quit, but then I kept on going.”
James’ father put up $100 if he completed the swim. When he saw his son struggling, he upped the ante to $200. James said his next goal is to swim the length of the Golden Gate Bridge, a distance of about 1.7 miles.