The belly flop contest at Sunday’s Delta Gamma Anchor Splash went belly up when the dead catfish being used as an aquatic mace fought back, sticking Jeff Thorpe in the forehead. Photo credit: Courtesy of Andrea Holland Cut: The Sigma Chi “dead fish” strategy flopped with judges, but Thorpe earned a catfish spike in the head.
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A belly flop contest at Campus Pool this weekend got a little fishy during one fraternity’s performance.

Junior business economics major Jeff Thorpewas sent to the hospital Sunday after a mishap in the belly flop competition at the Delta Gamma Anchor Splash. Thorpe entered the competition with three of his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers – Kevin Sanderson, Sten Ericson and Gavin Kelly – and three dead catfish. During the course of events, Thorpe ended up with a fish stuck to his face and a trip to the hospital.

“It was hilarious,” Thorpe said. “The guys were laughing and I was laughing too, but the girls were all screaming.”

As part of their performance, the fraternity brothers threw the three catfish into Campus Pool, performed their belly flops, swam after the fish and then planned to beat each other in the head with them. Unaware that their fish of choice- the catfish – have sharp, pronged spines in their pectoral and dorsal fins, Sanderson began pummeling Thorpe over the head with one of the fish.

“It was part of the skit to hit each other,” Thorp said. “If he hadn’t hit me, I would have hit him.”

The final blow came when one of the fish’s inch-long spines got stuck in Thorpe’s forehead.

“I thought it was stuck in my hair, and I kept telling Kevin [Sanderson] to get it out of my hair, but it was actually stuck in my head,” Thorpe said. “It didn’t hurt at all. I couldn’t even feel it until he started trying to pull it out.”

Sanderson and Ericson tried to pull the fish off Thorpe’s forehead but called the lifeguard to the side of the pool when they were unable to do so. The lifeguard was also unable to free the fish and called the paramedics who arrived and cut the fish’s fin off its body, freeing it from Thorpe’s head, but leaving the dorsal spine to be removed at the hospital. Thorpe’s fraternity brothers took the fish home and have saved it as a keepsake.

“We totally saved the fish, it’s in our freezer,” Sanderson said.

Thorpe was transported to Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital where emergency room personnel made an incision in his head and removed the spine, which was stuck between his skin and skull. They then x-rayed his head to be sure no pieces of the spine were left embedded and then gave him one stitch in his forehead to close the wound.

“The people at the hospital didn’t think it was funny,” Thorpe said. “They said it could have been pretty serious if it had gone in my eye or something.”

Despite the group’s harrowing antics, they failed to get the top score in the belly flop contest.

“It was part of the skit to get hit in the head and we still didn’t win,” Thorp said. “We’re still appealing the decision.”