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Digital Subscriptions > Outdoor Swimmer > June 2018 > THE FEARLESS FROGMAN

THE FEARLESS FROGMAN

Captain Paul Boyton and his innovative rubber suit generated headlines in the English Channel and other waterways. By Elaine K Howley

SWIMMING HISTORY

On 5 May 1875, the SS Schiller, a German-built steamer was on a typical run, carrying nearly 400 passengers from New York to Hamburg. Under a heavy fog and dark of night, she approached the English Channel. Though the captain knew he was sailing near the Isles of Scilly, he and several volunteer lookouts were unable the spot the Bishop Rock lighthouse which would have pinpointed their location with more precision. The ship ran aground and sank. In an egregious state of disrepair, the emergency lifeboats only saved 27 people (26 men and one woman), and fewer still were rescued by local coast guards.

At the time, swimming was not a common skill and given the circumstances it would be difficult to argue that being able to swim would have made much difference for the 335 people who perished in the Schiller shipwreck. But the disaster garnered international headlines and calls for better lifesaving options for the ocean-going public. This hue-and-cry perhaps fuelled the fire of attention that focused on one man and an innovative life-saving suit that would eventually get him across the same waterway where the SS Schiller and so many of her passengers perished.

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About Outdoor Swimmer

As we finally spring into summer, our June issue is packed full of inspiring stories and features. Whether you are training for an endurance swim or planning a summer of wild swimming adventures, we have all the best advice, kit and inspiration to help you get out there and enjoy the open water.