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Wednesday, August 3, 2005
Retriever finishes 72nd in 1.2-mile swim

Associated Press — Aug. 3, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO — With a stomach full of scrambled eggs, Jake dog-paddled his way into history.

Organizers of the South End Rowing Club's 10th annual Alcatraz Invitational, a 1.2-mile swim from the infamous prison island to the San Francisco shoreline, say the 65-pound golden retriever is the first canine known to have made the crossing.

He was the only dog among more than 500 swimmers who leapt into the chilly, choppy waters Saturday, coming in 72nd overall. His time was 41 minutes and 45 seconds.

The crowd cheered as 4-year-old Jake made his way onto solid ground, shaking sprays of water and dodging a woman who tried to put a medal around his neck.

"It was colder and rougher than we thought it would be," said Jeff Pokonosky, Jake's owner and swim partner. "Jake amazed me. He was very focused. He started out really fast. I was trying to slow him down. He increased his pace to stay with the pack."

The pair live in San Diego and swim 4 miles a week and bodysurf together. And Jake always eats scrambled eggs before a big swim.

Bill Wygant, president of the South End Rowing Club, said he was happy to allow a dog into the race, a first for the more than 100-year-old group.

"This swim is about personal challenge," Wygant said. "Whether you are dog or human, it's whatever you can achieve that counts."