Handicapped Swede sets Alcatraz swim record

Swedish handicapped swimmer Anders Olsson shocked a field of experienced open-water swimmers by winning a race from prison island Alcatraz to the California mainland in record time on Sunday.

Handicapped Swede sets Alcatraz swim record
Anders Olsson receives the 2010 Handicapped Athlete of Year Award an award

“I didn’t think it was true that I won. Then I thought it was really amazing since they had actually laughed at me when I came here to compete,” the 45-year-old Olsson told TV4.

Olsson, a Paralympic gold medalist who is paralyzed from the waist down, was the first swimmer without functioning legs to enter the grueling competition.

Dubbed the “Swim with the Centurions”, the race entails swimming 2.6 kilometres in the rough and frigid waters of the San Francisco bay that separate the famed prison island from the mainland.

While Olsson described plying through the chilly 13 degree Celsius waters as “tough” he nevertheless managed to outclass hundreds of other swimmers who participated in the event, despite not having use of his legs.

Not only was Olsson’s time of 24m32s enough to give him a four minute margin of victory over second place Kyle Winters, but it also set a new record for the 9-year-old Alcatraz Classic.

Following his stunning victory, Olsson was christened “The Swedish Torpedo” by his fellow competitors.

Olsson, who lost the use of his legs in the mid-1990s, was confined to a bed for five years battling depression and morphine addiction until he turned his life around in 2002, according to an account on his personal website.

He has since competed in the Paralyimpics in 2004 and 2008, and been named Sweden’s Handicapped Athlete of the year in 2008 and 2010.

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Malmö: Swimmers warned to stay out of water due to dangeous algae

Residents and visitors to Malmö have been warned to avoid swimming at all beaches and bathing spots along the southern city's coastline due to dangerous algae bloom in the water.

Malmö: Swimmers warned to stay out of water due to dangeous algae
The bathing pier at Sundspromenaden, one of Malmö's affected beaches. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT

Editor's note: On Thursday, July 25th, city authorities said it was once again safe to swim. Bathers are advised to look for signs and flags by swimming spots in case the situation changes.

The city council took to social media to ask people to avoid swimming “until further notice”, while signs have been put up and black flags raised at the sites themselves.

This is after regular tests showed there was algal bloom in the water, which can produce toxins that are dangerous to people and animals, sometimes leading to rashes and stomach flu-like symptoms.

While the warm weather encourages many people to go for a dip outdoors, these weather conditions can also lead to overgrowth of algae.

Some of the affected swimming spots include Klagshamnsstranden, Ribersborgsstranden, Scaniabadet and Sundspromenaden in the Västra Hamnen area, Sibbarps saltsjöbad, and Sibbarpsstranden.

As for when it will be safe to swim again, it could be at least another day or two, but it's possible the beaches will be safe for bathers by the weekend.

Marie Persson from Malmö City's environmental department told Sydsvenskan: “We usually don't have this for more than a couple of days, then the wind blows it to other places. Now the weather is supposed to stay steady with calm winds, but I have no idea of ​​the currents. Hopefully it will be no more than a few days.”