Meet 10-Year-Old Ryan and His Mother Lori Clatterbuck: Odyssey Open Water Swimmer Profile

Getting Ready Odyssey Alcatraz Swim

“We both push each other and are one another’s ‘number one fan.’” -- Lori Clatterbuck

Ryan, who completed his first Alcatraz crossing with Odyssey Open Water Swimming in early July, started open water swimming two years ago. He’s been a regular of our weekly Berkeley swims, and decided it was time to take another step forward by moving up to the 2-mile Alcatraz swim. “It looked fun and challenging (and) I wanted to test my skills,” says Ryan.

“I swim because it’s fun and very entertaining,” says 10-year-old Ryan. Ryan says that the best part of swimming is, “Having fun and hanging out with my friends at swim.”

Ryan’s mother, Lori, has been swimming since 2016. “I began swimming laps in the pool to train for the Lake Tahoe Relay,” says Lori, who also completed her first ever Alcatraz crossing on July 6. 

It’s only natural to be nervous during your first Alcatraz crossing regardless of your age or experience level. However, Ryan seemingly has ice in his veins. “I was not nervous about the swim because I knew it would be fun and hard at the same time but I made it!”

Before Jumping in Alcatraz Odyssey Swim

While Ryan wasn’t nervous about crossing Alcatraz, at first, Lori was. “I knew we were both strong swimmers and capable of making the stretch to shore, however, not only did I have to worry about myself, but I had my little man to worry about as well,” Lori says. “Once we both jumped into the water and he looked over at me and said, ‘mom, we got this,’ I knew we were going to do great.” 

Here’s Ryan’s description of the day of the swim: 

“I woke up at 5:00 AM.  We (mom and I) got ready for the swim by putting on our swimsuits and eating a protein bar and a protein cookie. When we arrived at the meeting place we signed in and got numbers written on our hands. We got t-shirts and caps because we were participants in the swim.  

Ryan Jumping in Alcatraz Swim

Once everyone arrived we got on the boat and they drove us out to Alcatraz. They parked the boat and everyone put on their wetsuits and got ready to get in the water. Everyone started jumping in the water. I was the 5th person to get in the water. At first I hesitated, but everyone started cheering, "Go Ryan, Go Ryan" so I did a cannonball into the freezing water. It was so cold!  

Once I was in the water the current started pushing us away so we began swimming immediately. Almost every time I breathed I would get water up my nose and in my mouth because the waves were so big. I hated that part. We (mom and I) saw shore 50 minutes later.  Once we got there everyone said Ryan you are the best, you are so cool, ‘when I was your age I couldn’t do anything like this!’ That made me feel good and proud of myself.”

Ryan finished Alcatraz Odyssey

Ryan is thankful for having his mom by his side during the swim. She helped me through the whole swim by making sure I wasn't afraid and making sure I kept swimming,” Ryan says. “I would not have done the swim without my mom.” 

To fellow first-time Alcatraz swimmers, Ryan’s advice is to not be scared and to “Just make sure your wetsuit is tight or you'll be freezing.” 

Alcatatraz swimmers with Odyssey have ranged from under 10 to over 85. Coaches and support staff are nearby and in kayaks, guiding swimmers to shore and providing any assistance needed. Ryan started swimming at the age of five in introductory swim classes. When he was nine, Ryan joined the Vacaville Swim team. “I invited Ryan to do an open water ‘Odyssey Sunday Swim,’ and ever since then he was hooked on open water swimming,” says Lori. 

To prepare to swim from Alcatraz, Lori and Ryan practiced open water swimming with Odyssey. “We went from only being able to swim 500 yards, to going around the course two times,” says Lori. “Once Ryan was able to complete the course twice without stopping, I knew he would be ready for Alcatraz.”

Asked about completing the Alcatraz swim with her son, Lori states that it was one of the most memorable moments she has shared with Ryan so far. “I am so proud of his accomplishment, and the fact I got to do it with him was the best feeling of all,” Lori says. “The funniest part about it was that at the end it made me feel that I just accomplished something that other people wouldn't think about doing.”

To other parents interested in introducing their child to open water swimming, Lori recommends starting them swimming at a young age. “The younger the child, the easier it is to mold them into competent swimmers,” states Lori. “Being able to share my passion for open water swimming with my son, is an amazing experience.” 

Alcatraz Swim Odyssey Open Water Swimming

Asked if she would swim from Alcatraz again, Lori said that she’s already thinking about joining Odyssey in September for the last Odyssey swim of the year on 9/21. This time, Lori is considering swimming with another member of her family -- her mother. Lori also says that she and Ryan will complete another Alcatraz swim together in the near future. 

Thank you to Lori and Ryan for joining us for our 7/6 swim and many weekly Berkeley swims. We are inspired by your relationship and ability to keep pushing yourselves. 

Join Odyssey Open Water Swimming for a memorable open water adventure on September 21. Limited space is available so register here today

Warren Wallace