Martin's legendary Alcatraz 'escape'

In May 2014 Martin Farrell, from Kingston, undertook a solo swim across the icy, choppy and dangerous San Francisco Bay from Alcatraz Island and raised over £1,370 for PET. When he got back he told PET's student ambassadors Ingrid Bekono-Nessah and Lavanya Subramaniam (pictured) why he took on the challenge. Ingrid interviewed PET's Living Legend and shares his story here:

"Martin’s motivation for taking part in this extreme challenge was rooted in his incredible love for swimming. With his new-found passion for open water swimming, and having decided the Alcatraz swim was the next challenge for him, it was suggested he use the swim as an opportunity to raise funds for PET. He lept on this idea with great enthusiasm, particularly after meeting the team and hearing about the charity's fantastic work.

For Martin, the real challenge lay in the mental and physical preparation for the swim. The distance itself would not be an issue, but the warnings he had been given about swimming in the Bay proved a daunting prospect. Things were made more even more difficult in the month leading up the swim; Martin broke his ankle and doctors advised not to train in water. As a result he trained in other ways for example lifting weights to build upper body strength.

Martin worried whether the difficulties had got the better of him, but his positive approach made the difference; once in the water and on his own, he knew he had to fulfil his pledge to his friends, family and colleagues who had so generously sponsored him.  He maintained a focused attitude and persevered, motivated by that support. He describes the best part of the experience as the point at which he entered the water thinking of a quote from his brother, “The agony lasts only a minute but the glory lasts forever”. The next best thing was being treated to coffee and pancakes by friends and family afterwards! To date he has raised the brilliant sum of £1,370."

About Alcatraz

On 22 May 2014, Martin swam 1.5miles, in San Francisco Bay's strong currents which can reach up to six knots in icy water (13-15 degrees Celsius).

To find out more about Martin's training for this epic challenge and why he decided to support PET, read our press release and listen to an interview with his local radio station via Radio Jackie.