John R. Mathers Two  Mile Cross River Swim

Saturday, September 26th 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.

Click for Link to Facebook Page With Details

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. 


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, John decided on the option  for S. Merritt Island land. His immediate challenge  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 number of days  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.

John Mathers proved  very enterprising and over many years, acquired 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. The rumble of those planks from a 1/2 mile away kept me awake when living in my parents boathouse in 1981. Now the bridge features the former swing span of the Melbourne Causeway. The old bridge was found a feat of engineering according to FDOT when the span was rebuilt in 1982.

 The Swim September 26th , 8:30am

After swimming south and passing Dragon Point conditions of wind and water surface will have determined 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 the first year when the wind picked up to 2o mph.

Click on Images to expand to full size.

Note: we will start at the Lamb’s dock. We will not bother to swim north to the start line shown in the aerial photo as done the first two years.


 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.  Everyone should provide for their own safety. 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.

Please accept total responsibility 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.

2015 Bridge to Bridge Swim

Starts promptly at 7am from the EauGallie Causeway boat ramp
Weather Underground forecast for July 26th
7am,  clear,  74 degrees, wind – W at 5mph
8am,  clear,  77 degrees, wind – WSW at 5 mph
9am,  clear,  82  degrees, wind -WSW at 7 mph

10am, chance of T-storm, 85 degrees, wind- WSW at 10 mph

11am, chance of T-storm, 87 degrees, wind – WSW at 8 mph
At the first sandbar (1.5 miles) we re-group for the non-stop swim the finish. The sandbar stop is seen in the 2012 video. This is an un-supported, no cost event and considered  good group training opportunity. Swimmers are responsible for their own safety and hydration. As in the past, it’s not a race. Smoothies will be served by super swimmer/coach Dave Underill to all swimmers and escorts.

FaceBook album of 2014 Bridge to Bridge swim by Doug Carroll
10 day Weather Underground Link
2012 YouTube Video
Maps – Click on images to enlarge
compass view copy        Parking-Pier copy

29,2010 Aug

Eau Gallie Causeway Boat Ramp 2009 (?)
2014 Photo Album by Doug Carroll

Bridge To Bridge Swim (posted 4-9-15)

Who wants to swim 3.75 miles in Melbourne, Florida? Answer:  people who’ve been asking to know the 2015 date ever since the swim last year. More than 50 swimmers along with 25 escorts participated in 2014 when Dave’s blender cranked out multiple ‘smoothies’ for everyone who came ashore at the Indialantic pier. Calm water brought the field back to the level seen in the 2012 video.

My first inkling of the swim came in 2007 when brother Tom told me Dave Underill and Marshall Reeves had invited us to swim ‘bridge to bridge’ as they had for many years.
Dave Underill is a three time Double Ironman finisher and Marshall Reeves has a similar background in triathlon but also an elite cyclist. They used the swim each year to prep for their race schedules.  Dave lives in Vero Beach so I assumed their swim was between the 17th Street and Barber Bridges, a bit over a mile. I wasn’t interested.

My response in 2008 changed when learning this duo swam between the Melbourne bridges.   Triathlon friends know I’m not much of a swimmer and rely on the bike and run. Perhaps because the swim is my worst multi-sport event the challenge they posed was a magnet. Dave agreed to my ‘invite the world’ concept and I put out the word. About ten showed up in 2008 and were the first to become known as ‘Bridge to Bridge Swimmers’. The enticement has always been to experience the initial thrill of a causeway drive, to look across the expanse of water and realize the achievement of having swam the distance.

Participation in 2009 was similar and the name ‘Shiver’ became known. Kaitlin and her sister Ashley appeared at the boat ramp and slammed it! Later in summer, Kaitlin stunned the USA triathlon world by winning the women’s USAT age group national championship.

Leading to 2010, social media chat inspired someone’s suggestion of umbrella drinks to be served at the sandbar stop.   That was impractical so Dave offered pina coladas at the finish and about 25 swimmers plus escorts indulged with the same true for 2011.

 People were swimming  3.75 miles and running back four miles to the start ramp after  pina coladas.  It got a little crazy so post race drinks for 2012 were changed to be smoothies… but the best smoothies ever… unlimited!

Triathletes and swimmers are now attracted to this informal, no charge, local, open water swim event with a very short history. Strange as it is, myself a leg man, that I’ve  been so involved with this swim. But  triathlon has taught much respect for the sport in which I’m lacking and as a result, the B 2 B.  I’ve said with each year “Dave and I are planning to swim on________ (fill in the date) and if you want to come along you’re welcome to join us at the Eau Gallie Causeway boat ramp”. Photo: 2009 swimmers

2009 swimmers

Posted 8-20-12

Palace Properties International Beach Mile-Mile

1 – mile Ocean Swim, 1 mile Beach Run

For approximately the past ten weeks swimmers have been doing a one mile swim north in the ocean starting at the Nance Park lifeguard stand with a run or walk back to the starting point. Most know the park as the north end of Indialantic’s 5th Ave. boardwalk. These regular Friday 8:30am swims have been very popular with up to 20+ people coming out for calm clear water conditions ideal for open water swimming. For many, the objective was to be ready for this past Sunday’s Beach Mile-Mile race  duplicating what they have been doing each week.

With strong support from the 5th Ave. store Island Multisport, Mark and Kelly Palace (Palace Properties International) wanted to hold the event as a fund-raiser for the International Topical Steroid Addiction Network. ITSAN is an organization helping people with a little-known but very painful ailment caused by withdrawal from over use of topical steroids often prescribed for various skin afflictions. Unknown to many patients is when the skin becomes overly conditioned to the steroid, reaction is extremely painful when trying to break away.

 The ocean early morning on Sunday, August 19th was just as it has been most summer mornings with turn buoys set by Daniel Schlig as on every Friday and swimmers eager to get into water at perfect temperature. The action is best described with the imagery of the video vs. my words.  It was a fun day for all who participated!

Posted 6-25-12                                   Event held July 1, 2012

Bridge to Bridge News new maps may help those new to the Bridge to Bridge Swim.  Using Google Earth I was able to easily determine the compass headings between points. Reaching the first sandbar takes you away from the shoreline by 800yds  and getting to the last sandbar by 600yds. At those distances it is somewhat difficult to know if you’re swimming the shortest route.  I plan to equip my wife with a cheap compass to help keep me in a straight line.

The next map has details of the finish area. Kayaks get hauled up the embankment. If you want to leave your car at the finish, I will shuttle people to the start if you meet me by 6:15 a.m. I plan to put the ladder in the water before driving to the start area.

There will probably be an extra couple of kayaks available if you know someone to paddle.

Third Season Begins Thursday, March 15, 2012The weekly .9-mile swim starts at 6:00 pm from my mother’s dock. The address is 11220 S. Tropical Trail, right after the second speed hump north of the bridge.

Park on the grass in the front yard; there is no driveway. It is helpful to hear from you so we know approximately how many to expect. We usually start promptly but if you’re late, come down to the dock and use the ladder to enter and exit the water to join us. The range of swimmer ability spans a wide range.

Swimmers often counter a strong current southbound but this makes for a fast return to the dock. The turnaround point is the last dock before Mather’s Bridge using this as a safe landmark  to avoid fishermen on the bridge.

Contact information:

Rob Downey: (321)794-2191 mobile, email: downeystudios@cfl.rr.com.