by Joe Vazquez

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — On Saturday morning, when Kristine Buckley gets dropped off near Alcatraz island and makes it back to shore she will reach 1,000 Alcatraz swims.

When she does, she will be the first woman — and only the third person — to achieve that mark.

Buckley, 57, works as a warranty claims processor at a Burlingame car dealership. Most mornings, before any of us wakes up, she has been jumping in the water at the South End Rowing club in San Francisco, with a group of Alcatraz swimmers. At least once a week, for 21 years, she has made it back from that forbidding island.

Buckley says the chill water of the bay is always off-putting, at first.

“Ugh … I don’t like to get in. But once I’m in, I’m in my element,” she said.

An Alcatraz swim takes Buckley less than an hour but she has faced much tougher challenges.

This past summer she swam the length of Lake Tahoe. A few years ago, she swam across the English Channel — a
17-hour feat with waves two stories high. The swimmer behind her died along the way and his body was found eight days later in Belgium.

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