GRAND HAVEN, Mich. (WLNS) — Though many are relaxing to celebrate this Labor Day, Jim “The Shark” Dreyer has chosen Monday to swim across Lake Michigan.
The 60-year-old is set to begin his attempt to swim the width of Lake Michigan Monday evening. His launching point is Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and his destination is Grand Haven, Michigan.
Dreyer introduced one further plot twist when he announced he’s swimming the 82.5 miles alone, without an escort boat along, a spokesperson said this week.
“Swimming self-sufficiently is a different type of quest than an escorted swim,” Dreyer said in a press release. He’ll pull a 10-foot dinghy from his waist to tow along 225 pounds’ worth of supplies. He’ll use the latest GPS technology en route to Grand Haven.
Entitled “Lake Michigan: The Silver Sequel,” this expedition marks the 25th anniversary of Dreyer’s first record-setting swim across Lake Michigan in 1998, when he swam from Two Rivers, Wisconsin to Ludington, Michigan. He then became, and now remains, the first and only person to swim the lake between the two states.
Now, in 2023, Dreyer wants to beat his own record by swimming 25 miles further in his second swim across Lake Michigan. He first attempted this year’s swim on Aug. 1 and aborted the quest 10 miles east of Milwaukee when worsening lake conditions had swept him and his escort boat 2.3 miles off course.
“I am not good at walking away from a goal before achieving it,” Dreyer said. “While the safety net of having my professional support team with me on the water is definitely preferred, there are times, in certain conditions, where I stand a better chance on beating the elements alone without concerns related to the escort boat. There is only time for one more attempt this summer, and I do not want to risk the chance of what occurred last time happening again.”
Dreyer first learned to swim at 32, overcoming a lifelong fear of open water after a childhood near-drowning incident, according to his website.
Since then, he’s gone on to swim across all five of the Great Lakes. In 2005, he completed the crossing of his fifth Great Lake when he swam alone across Lake Superior, between the United States and Canada–while towing 325 pounds of supplies from his waist.
Though his quest may sound in most ways extraordinary, Dreyer said it’s well-calculated and within his reach.
“I am well trained for this and have calculated my risks,” Dreyer said. “I want to inspire others that one can control fear and achieve extraordinary goals through perseverance and fortitude. I do not want to encourage recklessness.”
To track Dreyer’s progress across Lake Michigan in real-time, as well as to make tax-deductible donations to the USCG Chief Petty Officers Associations, go here.
Correction: A previous version of this story said Dreyer had already started his swim Monday morning. It was actually set to begin Monday evening. We regret the error, which has since been corrected.