Sonoma teen conquers Alcatraz to San Francisco swim

Jack Weinstein swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco last Friday, making the mile-and-a-half swim in an amazing 45 minutes, and rising out of the bay with a smile on his face that made everyone who was there cheer him on, teary-eyed.

Jack is 15 years old, 75-percent blind and holds a vision for life that is perfectly clear.

“I did it to show people that if you really want to do something and you go ahead and try, the chances are very good that you can do it,” Jack said. “And I wanted to get as much information out as possible about No Barriers.” His swim raised $44,250 for the nonprofit, and Jack lives by its motto, “What’s within you is stronger than what’s in your way.”

“Seeing the number of people who donated shows me how many people believe in me. That support is all the motivation I needed to get into the water.” Jack has juvenile retinoschisis, a one-in-a-million genetic disease that’s left him blind in one eye and with two-thirds vision loss in the other. But he can see. “I can see things very well but only within a certain distance,” he said.

Jack, who lives just outside Sonoma, has been swimming since he was 2 and had a longtime goal to swim the Alcatraz swim. He trained for the past month with his mother, Kathleen, swimming four days a week in San Francisco Bay at the Dolphin Club. Jack started with a half-mile a day and worked up to two miles. Kathleen made the Alcatraz swim 19 years ago.

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