LeRoy Colombo


LeRoy Colombo of Galveston, Texas, was a champion long-distance and endurance swimmer and lifeguard. He is credited with saving 907 lives, a feat formerly listed in the Guinness Book of World Records. Stories about his incredible feats in rescuing victims of disasters, both on sea and land, became part of local lore. Was Colombo treated like a hero? Hardly. A grateful dog owner gave him $25 for rescuing her poodle from drowning; an elderly woman gave him $30 for retrieving her false teeth from the surf. What about gratitude for rescuing humans? Well, a father gave him two cans of beer for rescuing his two daughters from drowning. After seeing Colombo rescue a newsboy, bystanders took up a collection, totaling $1.00. Nothing stopped him, though. After being forced to retire at age 62 because of a heart condition, he continued to swim every day, practically until the day of his death, always on the alert for anyone who needed rescuing—grateful or not.

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