Byron “Flying Fish” Summers Swims the LA River

December 23, 2008 § 1 Comment

A fun river anecdote – though definitely in the don’t-try-this-at-home category!

I’ve been re-reading Mike Eberts‘ excellent book Griffith Park: A Centennial History (published by the Historical Society of Southern California, 1996) and came across this story:

The deadliest and most destructive flood in the city’s history just encouraged Byron “Flying Fish” Summers. On March 1, 1938, he kissed his sister Betty goodbye and dove into the flood-swollen Los Angeles River at Los Feliz Boulevard, at the southeast end of Griffith Park. A half hour later he pulled himself, bleeding and exhausted, from the river downtown near his destination, the Santa Fe depot. He had made a slight miscalculation, though – the depot was on the other side of the river. No problem. He dove back in and made his way to the other side. Summers, holder of six world distance records, said it was the most hazardous swim he’d ever attempted – but he’d do it again. “That’s my business,” he said. He needed two stitches over his right eye and five in his right side.

(Note: This will be the last 2008 blog for Joe “Bicycling Fish” Linton as he heads more southerly watersheds for holiday celebrations. I hope you’ve had as much fun reading this blog as I’ve had writing it this year. Thanks for your comments, compliments, discussions, encouragement, and assistance. Also, a big thanks to my creek freak co-conspirator Jessica Hall for contributing so much to my understanding of LA’s waterways! Look for more hard-hitting and enjoyable blogging here in the year ahead.)

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§ One Response to Byron “Flying Fish” Summers Swims the LA River

  • Jessica Hall says:

    Great story, Joe!! Hopefully someday (like, not during the rainy season!) we’ll all be able to swim the river also (but safely).

    Have a great trip, and kudos all around to the Creekfreaks!

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