From Florida we hear the harrowing story of 17-year-old river swimmer Kaleb Langdale who sacrificed his arm in an alligator attack. The incident took place on Monday in the Caloosahatchee River west of Lake Okeechobee. Wildlife officers caught and killed the 10 foot predator and retrieved the arm but doctors were unable to re-attach it. Despite this the boy is said by his friends to be in good spirits.
We are now at the end of the alligators mating season during which alligators become much more aggressive and inquisitive as they look for food for their mates. Humans are rarely bitten though, in fact an official stated: “We have millions of people swimming in the state’s waterways and nothing happens.” In the last 63 years there have been some 224 major incidents involving alligator bites with 22 fatal bites averaging one every three years.
Kaleb Langdale showed incredible presence of mind as he attempted to firstly ward of the attack and then went on to show remarkable bravery as he pushed away from the creature; deliberately detaching his arm in the process. His brave action saved his life and allowed him to swim to safety. More
What a contrast we see in the attitude of officials in Florida towards wild swimming, and the health and safety obsession of the English. In London swimming in the Thames has been banned by the Port of London Authority despite the objections of Mayor of London Boris Johnson who calls it ‘elf and safety’ lunacy. In Florida swimming continues in waterways despite the risk of alligator attack.
For information on open water swimming safety for children in the UK visit: Swim Safe.
For teenagers visit: Swim Smart.
 June 2011 Conservation Commission data