Swimming the Panama canal (in 1928)

On May 24, 2012 by admin

Not a journey to the likes of our previous round-the-world trips covered. Still a trip that kicked ass. Especially given its timing of the year 1928. Swimming across the Panama canal.

In that epic year author-adventurer Richard Halliburton, well-known travel writer of his day was given written permission by Gov. M.L. Walker to swim across the canal. The Governor agreed to having a small launch, a cameraman, a newspaper reporter and an expert rifleman accompany the swimmer through the Canal.  In turn, Halliburton accepted all liabilities of the trip, both to himself and “any damage he might do the Canal.”

Halliburton completed the swim in about 10 days and set some kind of precedent by being the first swimmer to be locked through all three sets of locks. His actual swimming time was about 50 hours.


Newspaper accounts said “it required as much mechanical labor to bring Halliburton, the lightest ship in Canal history, through the locks as it did for the 40,000-ton airplane carrier Saratoga, the heaviest.  Charges for the passage were made in accordance with the ton rate, and Halliburton, weighing 150 pounds, paid just 36 cents.”

Exactly these 36 cents made Halliburton world famous as they turned out to be the lowest toll ever paid in the history of the Panama canal!