Month: August 2013

John R. Mathers 2 Mile Cross River Swim

Saturday, October 4th at 8:30am swimmers, kayaks, and SUPs will cross the Indian River ending their 2+ mile trip on the beach of Squid Lips restaurant. From there, swimmers will have a choice of running, cycling or driving back to Oars & Paddles Park where most will have left cars parked. Some swimmers may wear fins.

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Athletes can lock bikes, position running shoes and park kayak-SUP transport vehicles at Squid Lips.  Car pool to Oars & Paddles Park, leave cars and walk across Mathers Bridge and turn  down the narrow road leading to Dragon Point. Vince Lamb and his family have graciously offered their dock for people to enter the water, the seventh home south of the bridge. 


Swimming a very short distance north, all will gather at the location of the old Mathers Bridge Fish Camp dock once jutting from the steep rocky shoreline. .

The Life of John R. Mathers

The painting is of John Mathers done 20 years after his death and displayed in Mathers Bridge Restaurant until it’s demolition in the early 1990’s.

Mathers came to Brevard at age 19, living in Eau Gallie. and offered a job at a pineapple plantation on South Merritt Island. Given a choice of payment in either cash or land if agreeing to stay with the job for at least two years, he decided on the option  of S. Merritt Island land. His immediate challenge however, was having  no way to get to his new job since it would be years later  the Eau Gallie Causeway was built. For an unknown length of time before he could afford a boat, John Mathers swam across the river each day. It is the story grand daughter Lola Mathers Haskins told me twenty years ago and never forgotten.

John Mathers proved  very enterprising and over many years, aquired additional large sections of S. Merritt Island. Eventually he built Mathers Bridge as a toll bridge to the island.  Some may remember the noisy wood plank bridge. I remember the rumble of cars from a 1/2 mile away while living in my parents boathouse in 1981. Now the bridge features the former swing span of the Melbourne Causeway but the old bridge was found to be quite a feat of engineering according to FDOT when the span was rebuilt in 1982.

 The Swim September 15th

After swimming south and passing Dragon Point conditions of wind and water surface will determine whether to swim parallel along the south or north side of the Eau Gallie Causeway. At the manatee sign near the relief bridge, if the wind is northerly, people can swim under the relief bridge. This was done last year when the wind picked up to 2o mph.

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 People are encouraged to stay relatively close to the causeway, keeping within the manatee zone for protection and proximity to shallow water. However the crossing route each person may take is of free choice. This swim-paddle has no sponsor or organizer and  information is offered only to be helpful. It is not a race. Though there will likely be unofficial escorts, everyone should make whatever arrangements to provide for their own safety. I know the route I personally take will not be the shortest but will account for boat traffic. A good location for launching kayaks and SUPs is this small beach across from the boat launch ramp. Parking is legal 14′ off the pavement.

There is parking at Squid Lips as shown.

As with the  Bridge to Bridge swim, we can try to pre-match swimmers with escorts.  Please know  you are totally responsible for your own safety. Squid Lips has allowed us to land on their beach and position our gear but has no liability or means of protecting anything of value. Bring a bicycle cable lock to secure to the railings.