When Pigs Swim

May 28 2010 @ 12:24pm

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This little post on vintage postcards, featuring the famous Ralph of Aquarena Springs, sparked one of the most popular threads of the week. A reader writes:

What I remember most about Aquarena Springs was being confused.  As a kid, I had several animal books that had pictures of elephants swimming, and our dog could definitely swim.  Why not pigs?  But everyone was so excited at watching Ralph dive into the water and swim around that I figured he must be a really special, uniquely swimming pig.

Not so much. From a speech by David Lawrence, Jr.:

[Charles] Kuralt once told this story on himself. CBS headlined that story: "The Remarkable Swimming Pig of San Marcos, Texas," and it was envisioned as quite the attention-grabber. To ensure that the piece was documented quite precisely, CBS even obtained a special camera that could take underwater pictures of that little porker paddling along. After the program ran, Mr. Kuralt got a semi-blizzard of letters from farmers saying, "You idiot! Any pig can swim." In Mr. Kuralt's subsequent judgment, "It would have been helpful to have known that before we did the story."

Richard Lutwyche chronicles the long and storied history of swimming pigs. Vince Lauro captured the photo above:

As the first mate on a 118-foot motor yacht, Vince Lauro has the opportunity to continuously travel across the Caribbean. This photograph was taken near a small key famous for the "swimming pigs." A colony of pigs lives on the key, and they often swim near visiting boats. To capture this clear image Lauro said, "I had to lure this pig into an undisturbed area with its favorite food: fresh watermelon."