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  • Paul Boyton, known as the Fearless Frogman, was a showman and adventurer some credit as having spurred worldwide interest in water sports as a hobby, particularly open-water swimming. Boyton, whose birthplace is variously listed as Dublin or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is best known for his water stunts that captivated the world, including crossing the English Channel in a novel rubber suit that functioned similarly to a kayak. Boyton attended Saint Francis University, Loretto, Pennsylvania. Boyton, eager for adventure at a young age, reportedly joined the Union Navy during the American Civil War when he was 15, and in his young adulthood served stints with Benito Juárez's Mexican Navy and the French Franc-tireurs during the Franco-Prussian War. He eventually returned to the United States and helped organize the United States Life-Saving Service, one of the precursors to the modern-day United States Coast Guard. He was later appointed captain of Atlantic City, New Jersey's lifesaving service. While in Atlantic City, Boyton began toying with a rubber suit invented by C. S. Merriman as a life-saving device for steamship passengers. This first immersion suit, which would become Boyton's trademark, was essentially a pair of rubber pants and shirt cinched tight at the waist. Within the suit were air pockets the wearer could inflate at will using tubes. Similar to modern-day drysuits, the suit also kept its wearer dry. This essentially allowed the wearer to float on his back, using a double-sided paddle to propel himself, feet-forward.² Wikipedia

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