Sixth-grader successful in swim from Alcatraz |

Sixth-grader successful in swim from Alcatraz

Jeff Munson, Tribune city editor

When Hannah Kropf walked onto the San Francisco shoreline after swimming 1.6 miles from Alcatraz Island on Sunday, she informed her father she wanted to do it again.

“Next year?” asked Chris Kropf of South Lake Tahoe.

“Right now,” she told him.

Just 11 years old, Kropf became the second-youngest-known swimmer to cross the channel between Alcatraz Island to San Francisco. Organizers of the 22nd annual Alcatraz Challenge said the record belongs to a 9-year-old.

Records aside, no one took the thunder out of Kropf’s stroke. She passed several swimmers in her wake to place 23rd for her division. Her time: 47 minutes, 35 seconds.

“People were like, ‘you’re 11 years old and swam that far? Oh my gosh, I want to shake your hand,'” said Kropf, a St. Theresa Catholic School sixth-grader.

Kropf was joined by Stateline veterinarian Staci Baker, who competed in a separate swim and 12K run. Baker’s time was two hours, two minutes. The two had trained a few weeks for the Challenge, which attracted more than 300 participants.

“I am so proud of her. She was incredible — an inspiration to all of us who had pre-race jitters,” Baker said of Hannah’s performance. “There were adults who actually chickened out and didn’t do it. But she took that leap of faith off the boat. It was awe-inspiring.”

There were moments when Kropf said she was “really scared,” especially before the race. But when it was her time to jump into the water, she hesitated.

“Staci said to me ‘just jump’ and I did,” she said. “After that it was just swimming and trying to go along with the current.”

Before the race, Kropf was told by race organizers that she would get 50 cents for every person she passed in the swim. The official tally has not been finalized, but Kropf said she was promised some money in the mail.

As a four-year veteran of the Lake Tahoe Swim Team, Kropf said she owes her success to swim coach Jerry Erickson, her friends, Baker, and her father.

Finishing the swim was a proud moment for her father.

“We had a fantastic day,” Chris Kropf said. “I will never forget it.”

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