El Tiburón Tabasqueño: Strong, Humble, Inspirational

Courtesy of the Sam Rockett Collection.

Damián Píza Beltrán led an interesting and inspirational life.

Not only was Píza the first Mexican to cross the English Channel in 1953, swimming in 15 hours 23 minutes at the age of 35, but he also competed twice in the 1954 and 1955 Billy Butlin International Channel Swims. He was one of only four finishers in the 1955 race from France to England in 15 hours 8 minutes.

Billy Butlin Cross Channel International Swim Participants

He worked as a stunt double for Johnny Weissmuller in the Tarzan films and wrote an autobiographyin 2004: El tiburón tabasqueño.

1955 Billy Butlin Cross Channel International Swim Results:
1. Abdul Latif Abou Heif (Egypt) 11 hours 44 minutes
2. Tom Park (USA) 12 hours 2 minutes
3. Syder Guiscardo (Argentina) 14 hours 33 minutes
4. Damián Píza Beltrán (Mexico) 15 hours 8 minutes

Antonio Argüelles remembers him after his first 1999 English Channel crossing. “My father always told me that Damián had done an incredible feat by crossing the Channel in 1953. As a kid, I had this image of a great swimmer. When I finally met him as an adult, my admiration did not diminish. After I crossed in 1999, I organized a breakfast with all the Mexican swimmers who had crossed the English Channel. When he arrived, I noticed how strong he was even in his mid-70’s. He was so humble and so strong.”

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