Berkeley MBA Students Escape from Alcatraz

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By Guest Blogger Dennis Ducro, MBA 13

As happens so often in business school, an ordinary conversation can lead to great adventures and impact. When Federico Acabbi, MBA 12, mentioned he had heard stories of an Alcatraz Crossing swim,  I took the hint.

As co-president of Redwoods at Haas, I work to bring the natural beauty of California closer to our MBA students, and to challenge them. This event fit into Redwoods’ calendar, and the first edition of “Haas Escapes from Alcatraz” was born. It promised not become a walk in the park…the Bay is extremely cold, the currents are strong, and the island lays 1.5 miles out in the open water.

Eighteen MBA students immediately signed up for the challenge, and the team could be spotted regularly in the swimming pools on campus in the months preceding the event. Both amateur and former professional swimmers had made this their goal for the end of the academic year, before heading out to internships and full-time roles.

On Sunday April 29, at 6:45am, the time had come! The team boarded a boat that brought them to a deserted Alcatraz Island, and at 7:00am they jumped in the water! Classmates, a gorgeous sunrise, and views of the impressive Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco accompanied the students during their swim. Their white caps read: “No One escapes?! Challenge the Status Quo!” referring with a smile to one of the four principles that define Berkeley-Haas.

All of us made it to shore, and the supportive community that had showed up to cheer could read a great sense of achievement from the exhausted, but happy faces. Two students even swam without any wetsuit, which is truly unbelievable since the thermometer indicated 51F for the water. The shower, sauna, and brunch with friends were well deserved (as was the afternoon nap).

Top row left to right–Julie Miller, Sebastiaan Verhaar, Hans Lintermans, Dennis Ducro, Federico Acabbi, Mark Stolze, Brandon Piper, Bernie Murphy, Gene Boyle.; Two in the middle–Tycho Moencks and Ismael Ghozael;Bottom row left to right–Gustavo Ribeiro, Suresh Krishnamoorthy, Boris Kopinitsch, Jaime Szigethi, Dan Stotts, Ariel Dekovic

Look out for next year’s edition!

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