Cesar Barria swims Anacapa

Posted by Scott Zornig, 3 April 2013

In 2012, the SBCSA had a Panamanian swimmer, Cesar Barria, successfully swim from Anacapa to mainland with a wetsuit. Cesar was not able to attend the SBCSA award ceremony last November so I promised him I would hand deliver his award during one of my trips to Panama. This past March, Tower Bank which is Cesar’s main sponsor, set up an award ceremony for Cesar and I was able to deliver on my promise. Below are some pictures of the awards presentation.


L to R Scott Zornig presenting Cesar Barria with award from 2012 swim
L to R Gabriel Campa, Scott Zornig, Cesar Barria and Bank President Jose Campa

I normally would not make such a big deal out of an awards ceremony…especially for a person who wore a wetsuit in a sport which is supposed to be about man/woman verses nature. However, I am making an exception for Cesar and this is why. Cesar is a 29 year old swimmer who lost his leg in a traffic accident after he was hit by a drunk driver. Prior to losing his leg, Cesar was an aspiring basketball player with dreams of making the Panamanian national basketball team. While Cesar was laying in the hospital recovering from the amputation, he made the decision not to mope around. He desired to find a way to use his disability to inspire others. Cesar forgave the person who caused the accident before he left the hospital and then returned to his childhood sport of swimming.

Panama is a small country of only 3 million people, but Cesar has become a national hero. Prior to swimming from Anacapa last year, he completed the Strait of Gibraltar and attempted the English Channel. He gives motivational speeches throughout his country of Panama to schools and businesses. I met Cesar three years ago and found a nice, humble young man who enjoys “Michael Phelps” type celebrity status in his country. Wherever Cesar goes, people ask for his autograph or just want to come up and shake his hand. His fellow Panamanians are very proud of him.

During Cesar’s Anacapa swim which I had the pleasure of observing last September, he had a support team which consisted of his parents, sister, coach and Tower Bank representatives who cheered for him throughout the entire endeavor. A second boat came along to film the swim for Panamanian news stations. I understand the country of Panama anxiously waited to hear news of his crossing. Cesar finished his Anacapa swim in 7:45:44 and Panamanians applauded as their favorite swimmer crawled up on to Silver Stand Beach where his parents, news crews and Jim Neitz (new friend and interpreter) greeted him.

Congratulations Cesar for your amazing attitude, willingness to inspire others and incredible accomplishment!


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