Former Dolphin Swims to Safety

Brooke Ellis

KRT SPORTS STORY SLUGGED: CARDINALS-DOLPHINS KRT PHOTOGRAPH BY JARED LAZARUS/MIAMI HERALD (SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL OUT) (November 7) MIAMI, FL -- The Dolphins' Rob Konrad scores a touchdown against the Cardinals during the first quarter of their game at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida, on Sunday, November 7, 2004. (mvw) 2004
KRT SPORTS STORY SLUGGED: CARDINALS-DOLPHINS KRT PHOTOGRAPH BY JARED LAZARUS/MIAMI HERALD (SOUTH FLORIDA SUN-SENTINEL OUT) (November 7) MIAMI, FL — The Dolphins’ Rob Konrad scores a touchdown against the Cardinals during the first quarter of their game at Pro Player Stadium in Miami, Florida, on Sunday, November 7, 2004. (mvw) 2004

On Wednesday Jan. 7, former NFL fullback Robert Konrad tackled his most arduous physical and mental challenge, when he was abandoned 9-miles off the coast of Deerfield Beach.

The former Miami Dolphin, who played from 1999 to 2004, was fishing alone Wednesday afternoon with his 36-foot Grady White on autopilot at 5-mph. After hooking onto a fish, Konrad lost his footing and toppled into the Gulf Stream, his boat continuing its route towards the Bahamas.

Abandoned 9-miles offshore without a life jacket, Konrad undressed himself and began swimming towards shore, guided simply by the sun’s position in the sky. He faced rough seas, jellyfish stings, and was circled by a shark at dusk.

“I realized at that point I was on my own,” Konrad recounted at a press conference. “It was late at night and I was pretty delirious at the time, but could see the lights getting closer and closer, so I just kept swimming.”

He recalled how he failed at an attempt to flag down a recreational fishing boat and a Coast Guard helicopter searching overhead.

“I know from experience how difficult it is to swim 9-miles in the ocean,” said junior swim team member Nicole Urquidi, who specializes in long-distance races. “I can’t imagine what it would be like if my life depended on it.”

At 4:30 am, after 16-hours of alternating backstroke and breaststroke, delusional Konrad dragged himself to shore. Paramedics rushed him to Good Samaritan Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a case of hypothermia and severe dehydration.

“It’s almost guaranteed he has muscle damage, muscle cell breakdown, [and] rhabdomyolysis that injures your kidneys,” said Dr. Scott McFarland in a recent interview with ABC News. “It’s a testament to a strong heart, a tough body, and wickedly strong constitution that he made it.”

Although Konrad has limited swimming experience, his physical condition and determination to survive helped him continue forward.

“Even with strength training and conditioning, that swim would be a long haul,” said sophomore football player Harrison Herskowitz.

Konrad’s boat was discovered near Grand Bahama Island, on Deadman’s Reef.