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Barefooting Over an Alligator

jon barefooting with cast

Earlier in 2015, Jon DeBelak smashed into a log, shattering his left heel bone into four pieces. He slapped a water-proof cast on his foot and went right back out on the water, skiing on one foot the rest of the summer.

On Thanksgiving day, Jon slipped a neoprene bootie on his left foot and took a long training run on the Ocklawaha River with Marc Donohue driving. The two of them are known for endurance and Figure-8 competitions–true barefoot junkies.

About six feet from the lily pads on a 100-foot line, Jon was cruising along at 43 mph when an 8-to-10 foot alligator surfaced right in his path. There was no time to react. Jon slammed into the reptile and crashed into the water.

“At 43 mph, it is a fraction of a second to impact!” Jon said. “By the time I reacted, I was airborne… His nostrils and eyeballs were just to my left–and I hit him squarely in the middle of his body while balancing on my left foot. I’m lucky he did not retaliate!”

Marc quickly turned the boat around and raced back to pick up Jon. The gash on his foot was bleeding profusely and required ten stitches and a hospital stay to prevent infection.

jon barefooting into alligator

Jon is no stranger to sports injuries–he’s got titanium in his neck, his pelvis, and his ankle from snowmobile and water ski mishaps. Despite numerous broken bones and surgeries, nothing keeps Jon off the water.

“I’ve been able to put a shoe on that foot for about a week now… I’m down in Aruba running up and down the beach trying to toughen up the foot so I can go barefooting again in early spring.”


About: Karen

Contributing writer for WaterSki and The Waterskier. Author of Barefoot Water Skiing: From Weekend Warrior to Competitor. Co-author of Gliding Soles with Keith St. Onge. Barefoot junkie.

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