Juan (Johnny) Jose Cortiñas was born in Cuba in 1915 and ultimately died in a Cuban prison in 1959 as a critic of the Fidel regime.
But he had a fascinating international swimming career that culminated in being inducted as an Honour Swimmer in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, Class of 1967 – the only Cuban to be so honored.
Cortiñas completed a 10 hour 45 minute crossing of the Strait of Gibraltar from Spain to Morocco.
Cortiñas failed in two separate attempts of the English Channel [see British Pathé footage here].
Cortiñas attempted a relay crossing of the Florida Strait between Cuba and Florida together with fellow Cuban swimmers Leo Vigil, Rolando Elejalde and Luciana Nunez from Bahia Honda in Cuba to Key West, Florida to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Cuban flag.
Cortiñas completed a 28 hour 55 minute crossing of the Catalina Channel from Catalina Island to the mainland.
Cortiñas attempted to swim from the Farallon Islands to the mainland, but he retired after 6 miles of swimming in the Pacific Ocean.
Cortiñas attempted to swim across Lake Tahoe, but retired en route.
Cortiñas completed a 32 hour 10 minute crossing of the Catalina Channel from the mainland to Catalina Channel.
Cortiñas competed in a race across Lake Tahoe against Fred Rogers, but had to be pulled from the water.
Cortiñas swam from Alcatraz Island to San Francisco in 1 hour 14 minutes handcuffed and with his legs bound.
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