July 6, 1908


Insisted That He Could Finish the
Long Swim From Lawrence to
Kansas City, but Was
Not Permitted.
Carl Kurz, Tried to Swim to Kansas City.
Who Swam Twenty Miles in the Kaw
River at Night.

After swimming in the cold water of the Kaw river for a little more than five hours, covering in that time twenty miles, Carl Kurz, the swimmer who started for Kansas City from Lawrence, Kas, Friday night, was forced to abandon his daring feat on account of a broken oar in one of the two boats that accompanied him.

Kurz entered the water at 9:30 o'clock Friday night and left at 2:35 Saturday morning, three miles above DeSoto, Kas.

The swimmer got along fine as far as Eudora, Kas. Here the boat carrying reporters from The Journal and the Lawrence World, went ashore to telegraph to their papers. The other boat, containing Roy Stratton, a riverman, went on with Kurz.

Three miles below Eudora, the boat was thrown into a snag and in attempting to get out, Stratton broke one oar clear off just below the carlock. The swimmer and the boat drifted helplessly down the stream. Kurz did not want to go ashore, but after drifting five miles and having many narrow escapes from snags, he decided it would be best to land and wait for the other boat.

That five mile drift was full of adventure. Kurtz had to stay near the boat, widely seen to have taken a sudden liking for snags and whirlpools. Once it floated up on a submerged corn field and Kurtz for a moment got his feet tangled in a barb wire fence.

Helped by the swimmer, Stratton finally landed at 2:35 a. m.


The second boat came by an hour later and tied up with the other It was agreed that the current was too treacherous and the snags too frequent to permit one boat to tow the other in the dark. All the light the party now had was a coal oil lantern A chemical bicycle lamp the press boat carried eploded a few miles below Eudora and this boat jo urneyed seen miles in the dark.

It was decided to wait until daylight and then drop down to DeSoto, get another oar, an start a new race from DeSoto to Kansas City.

A fire was built on the bank. Over his web bathing suit Kurz put on his coat and trousers and lay down on the damp sand by the fire He slept about an hour, being awakened at daylight. He was thoroughly chilled and in no condiion to re-enter the water. But he insisted that he would be ready to start from DeSoto for Kansas City as soon as the sun rose.

The sun was up when the party limped up to the bank in front of the Santa Fe depot at DeSoto. Kurz stayed in the boat, sleeping under two overcoats. He would eat nothing. It was found that oars were as scarce in DeSoto as children in a high class apartment house.


Kurz was warmed up by this time and eager to start. He was weak, though, and was really a little afraid of the cold water. A council of war decided that since it was doubtful whether Kurz could cover the remaining forty miles in his present condition, and since the prospect of another oar was so bad that it seemed likely that one boat would have to be towed several miles before another oar could be procured, the affair was called off.

Kurz came into Kansas City from DeSoto by train. The boat will be shipped back to Lawrence.

The swimmer displayed great nerve and endurance throughout the twenty-mile swim. Disappointd by the withdrawal of the other entrants in the race, he started alone, just to show that he was no quitter. And he wasn't He plowed his way down the dangerous river through treacherous whirlpools and around snags for twenty miles, the last five miles of which were made in front of a drifting boat.

Twenty miles in that cold water is a swim that few men would care to undertake. Most of them would want to get out of the dampness long before the last mile was reached. But Kurz did all this for fun, and because he refused to take a dare.


After he swam over the dam at Lawrence, several weks ago, a Lawrence merchant asked him why he didn't try to swim to Kansas City.

"Pretty far, isn't it?" said Kurz. "And the water' cold this time of year."

"You're not afraid, are you?" the merchant said.

"No, I'm not."

"Well, why don't you try to do it?"

And Kurz tried hard to do it.

He still contends that he can make the distance, and is willing to make another attempt if he can find any one to race against him. He has no money, so can n ot make any bet wthat would ring out the swimmers who are not swimming seenty miles for fun.

Kurz has studied art at the Chicago art institute and the St. Louis art institute. He was a promising artist, but gave up his art to become a plumber. His father is an evangelical minister in Chicago. He has been all over the United States, and for several months practiced his trade in Panama. His home is now in Lawrence, but he probably will move here.

Kurz believes in fasting after a long race. After he started on the swim he did not eat a thing until yesterday morning, when he ate an orange. As soon as he arrived here he bought a chocolate ice cream soda. That was all he ate yesterday.