Rancho Santa Fe students swim in Alcatraz Sharkfest


Local Arch Academy students from Carmel Valley and Rancho Santa Fe traveled to San Francisco on June 7 to test their strength and endurance in the annual Alcatraz Sharkfest swim from Alcatraz Island to Aquatic Park near Fisherman’s Wharf.

The students swam in 57-degree water for 1.5 miles from a ferry to the shore.

Arch Academy’s Zombie Club swimmers from Carmel Valley included Cardell Ackell, Matthew Georgy, Kaylee Kussman, Lauren Weinreb and Betzi Lindberg. Swimmers from Rancho Santa Fe included Austin Drawdy and Andrew Golub.

Fifteen-year-old Cardell made the crossing in the fastest time of the group, in 40 minutes. Arch Academy school founder Cheryl Zak and Assistant Principal Dominic Manente also swam with the students.

The Arch Academy is a kindergarten through 12th grade school specializing in motivating students who struggle in general school population because of ADD, ADHD, autism and behavior issues. The school’s philosophy is that each student is expected to achieve extraordinary things to the best of their ability no matter their challenge and the Zombie Club is an example of that.

Zombie Club members train for long-distance swims throughout the year, meeting at the Santee YMCA for 6 a.m. weight and swim training. They also meet once a week at La Jolla Cove for ocean swim training, working up to swimming more than four miles to the Scripps Pier and back.

The next big challenge for Zombie Club swimmers is a timed relay to Catalina. After that, the students will begin training to swim the English Channel next year.

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