Check out our new site at openwaterswimming.com

Triple Break

From Openwaterpedia
Ned Denison's Prison Island Swims (or the Triple Crown of Prison Island Swims or the Triple Break) were nominated for the 2016 WOWSA Awards, a recognition of outstanding men, women, performances and offerings around the globe sponsored by the World Open Water Swimming Association in the category of World Open Water Swimming Offering of the Year
Jacques Tuset of France, the world's leading Prison Island Swims escapee
Fort Jefferson prison island in Florida, U.S.A.
Fort Warren prison island in Massachusetts, U.S.A.

noun - Triple Break or the Triple Crown of Prison Island Swims is a series of open water swims from prison islands to nearby mainlands. Open water swimmers challenge themselves to the swims of the Triple Break by swimming at least 3 of the world's most well-known prison island swims that include Le Château d’If, Fort Boyard, Devil's Island, Île de Gorée, Robben Island, Alcatraz Island, Spike Island, Rottnest Island, Sainte-Marguerite and several additional renowned prison islands.

Synonym[edit]

Also known as prison island swims.

Open Water Swimming[edit]

The sites of the Triple Break are now 21st century venues better known in the open water swimming community for challenging open water swims with tricky currents and surrounding marine life rather than its penal history. Convicts of the past have given way to contemporary open water swimming traditionalists and wetsuit-clad triathletes and swimmers who can replicate an aquatic path of prison escape.

Origin[edit]

Triple Break (or prison island swims) was first proposed by Ned Denison.

Triple Break Sites or Prison Island Swim (listed by region and country)[edit]

Africa[edit]

Asia/Australia[edit]

  • Rottnest Island (Australia): 19.7 km to mainland, was used as an Aboriginal prison between 1838 and 1931 for men and boys
  • Fort Denison (Australia): 1 km to mainland, was used as a prison and for hanging in the 1800s
  • Cockatoo Island (Australia): 0.5 km to mainland, was used as a prison from 1839 to 1869
  • Tasmania Island (Australia): 198 km to mainland, 70,000 were transported there from the early 1800s
  • Hao Island (French Polynesia): 920 km to Tahaiti, in the late 1980s, two French intelligence (DGSE) operatives were briefly confined to the military base on the island after France obtained their release from a New Zealand prison for sinking the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior
  • Gunkanjima Island (Japan): 15 km to Nagasaki, was used as a prison from 1930s to 1946 during World War II
  • Mukaishima Island (Japan): 0.25km to mainland, used as an open prison
  • Hei Ling Chau Island (Hong Kong): 11 km to mainland
  • Hong Kong Island (Hong Kong): 0.5 km to mainland - 15+ prisons!
  • Lantau Island (Hong Kong): 1.5 km to mainland - 4 prisons
  • Sado Island (Japan): 40 km to Japanese mainland, was used as a prison from 722 to 1271
  • Kwajalein Island (Marshall Islands): 2,865 km to Papua New Guinea, as reported in "Unbroken - Louis Zamperini Story" - Execution Island from World War II
  • Isle of Pines (New Caledonia): 49 km to mainland, 3,000 deported from the Paris Commune in 1872
  • Côn Sơn Island (Vietnam): 85 km to mainland, was used as a prison from the 1960s to the 1980s
  • St. Helena (Australia): 4 km to mainland, was used as a prison between 1826 and 1932

Central America[edit]

Europe[edit]

  • Alderney Island (Alderney, Channel Islands): 15 km to mainland, was a camp for Russian slave workers for the German occupational forces during World War II
  • Spinalonga (Crete): 2 km to mainland, a prison for refugees (later sold into slavery) from 1715 and a leper colony from 1904 to 1957
  • Goli otok (Croatia): 3 km to mainland, a political prison from 1949 to 1989
  • England: 33 km to France, lots of prisons!
  • Drakes Island (England): 0.75 km to mainland, Two famous Roundheads were imprisoned from 1662 to 1683 - both died on the island
  • Spitbank Fort (England): 1.3 km to mainland, built in 1878 and served later as a prison
  • Chausey (France): 17 km to Granville, built in 1859 and served later as a prison
  • Île de la Cité (France): 0.1 km to mainland, was used as a prison in the late 1700s
  • Île du Levant (France): 12 km to mainland, was used as a children's prison
  • Fort Royal de Sainte-Marguerite (France): 1 km to mainland, was used as a military prison and where the famous Man in the iron mask was held captive
  • Le Château d’If (France): 5 km to mainland, was a fortress and prison for 400 best know through the novel The Count of Monte Cristo
  • Fort Boyard (France): 18 km to mainland, is an oval-shaped fort and military prison
  • Île de Brescou (Brescou Fort) (France): 1.5 km to mainland, was used from late 1600s for 200 year as a state prison for crimes such as treason<br/
  • Fort Liedot/l'île d'Aix (France): 7 km to mainland, between 1854 and 1870, it was transformed into a place of detention for military prisoners, ater communards and during the twentieth century new political prisoners, including the future president of the Algerian Republic, Ahmed Ben Bella<br/
  • Fort Madame (France): 3.3 km to mainland, became a prison at the time of the revolutionary period "La Commune de Paris" when the working population of Paris revolted against the government in place. In 11 months, from 1871 to 1872, it housed nearly 1250 prisoners.<br/
  • Fort Enet (France): 4.2 km to mainland, served as a prison for some communards in 1871 and at the beginning OF THE century, it served as a transit prison for convicts and decommissioned shortly before the First World War.<br/
  • National Fort St. Malo (France): 0.5 km to mainland, was used in WWII as a prison<br/
  • Oleron Island (Île d'Oléron) (France): 3 km “organised race” to mainland, was used as a state prison between 1789-1870
  • Château du Taureau (France): 0.7 km to mainland, was used in the 1720 as a small prison (10 prisoners maximum)
  • Belle-Île (France): 15 km to mainland, was used from 1902 to 1977 for children
  • Noirmoitier (France): shortest distance 0.3 km (but Jacquest Tuset swam 13.6 km to Pornic), a prison during the French Revolution and Paris Commute
  • Ile d’ Yeu (France): 20 km to mainland, was used until 1950s from the 1860s as a state prison – famous for Marshal Petain
  • Saint-Martin-de-Ré (France): 16 km to mainland, was used as a transfer prison for convict destines for Devil's Island
  • St. Marcouf (France): 10 km to mainland, was used as a fort/prison by British then French in the early 1800s then in 1871 for the prisoners of the French Commune
  • Belle île - Quiberon (France): 15 km to mainland, a prison starting in the 1870s and “housed” children after WW2.
  • Ile Pelée - Cherbourg (France): 2 km to mainland, a prison during the French Revolution from 1795 to 1800.
  • Palais de l'isle -Annecy (France): 0.03 km to mainland, a prison starting in 1325 when the feudal lord of Annecy paid Jean de Menthoux, the master of the island, to feed two prisoners. Then during the French Revolution and until 1865, the castle continued its notorious prison role whilst also housing barracks for the passing troops. During the Second World War, the Palais de l’Île resumed its prison function.
  • Tatihou (France): 2 km to mainland, was used as a "quarantine center" (prison) for plague victims in 1720
  • Bourtzi - Methoni (Greece): 200 m to mainland, was used as a prison by the Turks in the early 1500s
  • Makronisos (Greece): 5 km to mainland, was used in the 1946-1949 as a prison political prisoners
  • Corfu (Greece): 2.3 km to mainland, was used from 1786 as a prison
  • Fortress of Bourtzi (Greece): 0.5 km to mainland, was used from the 1865s as a prison
  • Spike Island (Ireland): 2 km off the larger Island of Cobh, was the former isolated prison home of infamous Irish inmates
  • Cork City (Ireland): 0.2 km but more commonly the 4 km "Rebel Plunge" swim, prisons for several hundred years
  • Isola delle Femmine (Italy): 0.5 km to mainland, was used as a female only penal colony in the 1600s
  • Santo Stefano (Italy): 49 km to mainland, was used as a prison from the time of the Romans to 1965
  • Ventotene (Italy): 49 km to mainland, was used as a prison from the 18th century to some time after WW2
  • Isola di Capraia (Italy): 62 km to mainland, northwesternmost of the seven islands of the Tuscan Archipelago, 30 km to Corsica, 32 km to Elba, penal colony from 1873 to 1986
  • Pianosa (Italy): 18 km to mainland, was used from Roman times and later for Mafia members as a prison, part of the Tuscan Archipelago
  • Asinara (Italy): 22 km to Porto Torres in Sardinia, During World War II, the island became a prison camp for Austro-Hungarian soldiers; from the 1970s until the establishment of the national park in 1997, Asinara was reconverted to become one of Italy’s main high security prisons, used mainly for detention of mafia members and terrorists.
  • Elba (Italy): 22 km to mainland, was used as Napoleon’s prison, part of the Tuscan Archipelago
  • Grmožur (Montenegro): 1.5 km to mainland, The “Alcatraz” of Montenego from 1843
  • Mamula Fortress (Montenegro): 1.2 km to mainland, was used as a prison in the 1800s
  • Bastøy (Norway): 2 km to mainland, was used in the 1898 as a children's prison and now is trying to become "the first ecological prison in the world"
  • Cabrera (Spain): 25 km to mainland, was used in the early 1860s as a prison during the Napoleonic Wars – once housing 25,000 prisoners
  • Tabarca (Spain): 21 km to mainland, was used in the 1700s as a prison
  • Isla de San Simón (Spain): 0.4 m to mainland, was used from 838 to 1927 as a prison and leper colony
  • Långholmen (Sweden): 0.3 km to the center of Stockholm, was used as a prison for 250 years – closed in 1975
  • Château Chillon-Saint Gingolph (Switzerland): 10 km to the mainland, during the 16th century Wars of Religion, the dukes of Savoy used the castle to house prisoners. Its most famous prisoner was probably François de Bonivard, a Genevois monk, prior of St. Victor in Geneva and politician, who was imprisoned there in 1530 for defending his homeland from the dukes of Savoy.[8] Over his six-year term, de Bonivard paced as far as his chain would allow, and the chain and rut are still visible.

North America[edit]

  • Alcatraz Island (U.S.A. - San Francisco, California): 2.3 km to mainland, was the former isolated prison home of Al Capone and other celebrated American criminals
  • Angel Island (U.S.A. - San Francisco, California): 10 km to mainland, was used as a quarantine station for more than one million Chinese immigrants, and a prison camp for Japanese and German prisoners of war in WWII.
  • Hart Island (U.S.A. - New York City, New York): 1 km to mainland, Civil War prison
  • David's Island (U.S.A. - New York City, New York): 0.8 km to mainland, Civil War prison
  • Santa Cruz (U.S.A. - Santa Barbara, California): 33 km to mainland, was use to house prisoner after Mexico's independence from France
  • Fort Warren (U.S.A. - Boston, Massachusetts): On Georges Island, 11 km to mainland, was used as a prison in the American Civil War until 1862
  • Long Island (U.S.A. - Boston, Massachusetts): , 1 km to mainland, During the Winter of 1676/7 all the local American Indians were collected and abandoned on the Island
  • Fort Jefferson (U.S.A. - Key West, Florida): 110 km to Key West Florida, was used as a prison for USA Civil War deserters and plotters to kill Abraham Lincoln
  • McNeil Island (U.S.A. - Steilacoom, Washington): 4.5 km to mainland, was used as a prison in the 1880s up to 1,200 inmates
  • Johnson Island (U.S.A. - Alderson, West Virginia): 5 km to mainland, was used as a prison from 1861 with up 2,500 Conference prisoners
  • Peddocks Island (U.S.A. - Boston, Massachusetts): 0.4 km to mainland, was used as a prison during World War II for Italian prisoners
  • Deer Island (U.S.A. - Boston, Massachusetts): Does not qualify - it is no longer separated from the mainland, was used as a prison from 1880 to 1981
  • Rikers Island (U.S.A. - New York City, New York): 0.1 km to mainland, active prison [note: do not encourage a swim]
  • Sunflower Island (U.S.A. - Missouri): no longer an island, Prison during the Civil War for those with smallpox - and prior to that the location of a duel challenge with future President Abraham Lincoln

South America[edit]

10 Escapes Video[edit]


Courtesy of Jacques Tuset and Team Aquadeus

List of Famed Triple Break Swimmers[edit]

2001 Jacques Tuset (Oleron Island - La Tremblade + England + Alcatraz + Le Château d’If + Fort Boyard + Robben + Cabrera Island - Majorque + Langholmen + Spike + Île du Levant + Corfu + Sainte-Marguerite + Rottnest + Tabarca + Île de Brescou + Château du Taureau + Goree +Salvation Islands: Devil's, St Joseph's and Royale + Isla de San Simón + Isola delle Femmine + Drakes Island + Spitbank Fort + Mogador Island + Tatihou + St. Mareouf + Spinalonga + Asinara + Île de la Cité + National Fort St. Malo + Makronisos + Bourtzi - Methoni + Angel Island + Hart +David's + Chausey +Grmožur + Mamula Fortress + Fort Enet + Fort Madame + Fort Liedot/l'île d'Aix + Belle île - Quiberon + Ile Pelée - Cherbourg + Palais de l'isle -Annecy + Château Chillon-Saint Gingolph + Noirmoitier for his 45th break)
2006 Steven Black (Robben + Spike + Alcatraz)
2006 Joe Donnelly (Robben + Spike + Alcatraz)
2006 Mike Harris (Robben + Spike + Alcatraz)
2006 Ossie Schmidt (Cockatoo Island + + Spike Alcatraz + Robben for his 4th break)
2006 John Conroy (Cockatoo Island + Spike + Alcatraz + Rottnest for his 4th break)
2006 Ned Denison (Spike + Alcatraz + England + Cork City + Santa Cruz+ Robben + Rottnest + Île du Levant + Sainte-Marguerite + Île de Brescou +Le Château d’If +Salvation Islands: Devil's, St Joseph's and Royale + Long Island + Bourtzi Methoni + [Isla de San Simón] for his 15th break)
2009 Jennifer Hurley (Alcatraz + Rottnest + Spike + England for her 4th break)
2011 Gary Emich (Alcatraz + Rottnest + Spike + Robben for his 4th break)
2010 Kieron Palframan (Robben + Alcatraz + Rottnest + Englandfor his 4th break)
2011 Gary Emich (Alcatraz + Rottnest + Spike + Robben for his 4th break)
2010 Ryan Stramrood (Robben + Alcatraz + Rottnest + Englandfor his 4th break)
2011 Gary Emich (Alcatraz + Rottnest + Spike + Robben for his 4th break)
2009 Ram Barkai (Robben + Rottnest + Alcatraz + Spike for his 4th break)
2011 Gary Emich (Alcatraz + Rottnest + Spike + Robben for his 4th break)
2014 Nick Glendinning (Robben + Alcatraz + Spike)
2014 Helen Gibbs (Spike + Rottnest + Alcatraz + England for her 4th break)
2018 Finbarr Hedderman (Spike + Alcatraz + Robben + England)
2019 Kevin Williams (Spike + Alcatraz + Robben)
2019 Lauren Lesyna (Alcatraz + Changuu + Le Château d’If)


The list shows the Islands, in order that they were swum. The year denotes the completion of the Triple Break.

Escape from Fort Royal de Sainte-Marguerite[edit]


1.3 km swimming escape from the Fort Royal de Sainte-Marguerite to Palm Beach in Cannes, France by Ned Denison, Jean-Yves Faure and Jacques Tuset escorted by Jean-Christophe Grand.

10 Escapes Video[edit]


Courtesy of Jacques Tuset and Team Aquadeus

Escape from Spike Island[edit]

External links[edit]