OAKLAND -- A man clad only in boxer shorts who swam across Lake Merritt on Saturday morning and kept police and firefighters at bay for more than an hour before finally climbing out, was taken into custody for psychiatric evaluation, authorities said.

The man refused to give police his name, age or place of residence or why he swam the lake.

The Lake Merritt Boating Center on Bellevue Avenue near the shoreline where the man ended up was closed at one point while police negotiated with him to get out of the water. But that did not stop sailboaters, canoers and kayakers already in the lake from watching as they sailed and paddled by. Dozens of people on shore also watched.

The drama unfolded about 11:30 a.m. after the man jumped into the lake near Lakeshore and Hanover avenues on the east side and swam a half-mile to the other side, near the boating center, stopping about 100 feet from the shoreline.

The man waded and stood up in the water but refused to get out. He yelled, screamed, cursed and sang in both Spanish and English as officers and firefighters in a raft and a pontoon boat tried to persuade him to get out of the water.

About 12:10 p.m., the man climbed onto a small deck of the boat, but before police could grab him he jumped back into the water. At least twice he threw rocks and mud at police in the boat.


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After more negotiations by Sgt. Curtis Worcester and Officers Lupe Chacon and Jay Factora, who were on the boat, the man finally came ashore and was arrested at 12:55 p.m. by officers after he walked up an embankment to a service road.