Blind Brophy student swims from Alcatraz to San Francisco

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by Steve Bodinet

azfamily.com

Posted on October 1, 2013 at 6:28 PM

Updated Thursday, Oct 3 at 4:09 PM

PHOENIX  -- He's hiked the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim, and has scaled to the top of Africa's highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro. Now, 17-year-old Max Ashton has a new accomplishment to add to his impressive list.

The Brophy Prep senior and three others became the first group of blind swimmers to make the grueling one-and-a-half mile swim from Alcatraz to the San Francisco shore.

"When I jumped into the water, all my muscles tightened up and I was never able to get loose," the teen said of the icy water.  The infamous currents of the Bay were also tough to overcome.

"Really, I was just thinking about that quote from Finding Nemo, 'Just keep swimming.' It's really just like stroke, stroke, stroke," he recalls.

Encouraging Max along the way were his three longtime friends, including Brophy sophomore, Eric Stelzer.

"I love working with Max; he's one of my really good friends,"  says Stelzer, who adds that sometimes others treat Max differently due to his lack of sight.  But his vision problems have never kept this top-notch student and adventurer from heading out on his next conquest.

Upon graduation, Max wants to go to college, maybe Harvard. And while he's not sure of what he wants to do after that, it's a sure bet he'll be successful.

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