Friday, May 1, 2009

Old Swimmers Never Die, They Just Wade Away

Ted Erikson, one of the toughest marathon swimmers in history and a 1978 inductee in the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame, has a great motto...

Old swimmers never die, They just wade away!.

Ted started marathon swimming at the age of 33 in 1961 when he became the first person to swim across Lake Michigan in the USA. He swam from England to France in 12 hours and 25 minutes in 1964.

His career peaked in 1965 with a record double crossing of the English Channel in 30 hours and 3 minutes on his third attempt. His record stood for 10 years until it was broken by his, Jon. Ted still holds the record for swimming 50.6K (31.5 miles) in 14 hours and 35 minutes from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, USA across frigid shark-infested waters in 1967.

He participated in eight professional marathon swims in Lake Michigan, Atlantic City, the La Tuque 24-hour relay with Dennis Matuch in Canada and the Traversée Internationale du Lac Memphrémagog in Canada.

His Lake Michigan swims included a 59K (36.75-mile) swim from Chicago, Illinois to Michigan City, Indiana, USA in 1961 in 36 hours and 37 minutes, a 80.4K (50-mile) swim from Chicago to Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA in 35 hours and 37 minutes in 1962, and a 96.5K (60-mile) swim from Chicago to St. Joseph, Michigan, USA in 37 hours and 25 minutes in 1963.

He also guided four protégés across the English Channel, did a 19K (12-mile) Chain o' Lakes swim from Winter Haven, Florida to Cypress Gardens in 1961 and a 64K (40-mile) pool swim (of 3,520 lengths) at Illinois Athletic Club in Chicago in 1963 in 22 hours and 17 minutes.

Copyright © 2009 by World Open Water Swimming Association


Anonymous said...

I did not realize anyone had swum from Farallon Islands to San Francisco. Having read about the great white sharks there in The Devil's Teeth, I find this swim to be one of the most amazing I've ever read about! The shark researchers who lived there considered a swim even from boat to shore to be a death wish!

I found a great account of this swim online in a scanned version of "Wind, Waves and Sunburn: A Brief History of Marathon Swimming". (web address too long to post) Amazing! Looking forward to reading more about other swims too.

Steven Munatones said...

Ted's swim was indeed incredible, brave and heroic.

Colonel Stewart Evan also swam from the Farallon Islands to the California coast in 13 hours and 46 minutes in August 1967 (in a different route) which was noted in our January 1, 2009 article about the Top Ten Moments in Open Water Swimming History.

We also wrote about Stewart's Farallon Islands swim in more detail on December 14, 2008 in this blog (refer to

Anonymous said...

I read a little more about these two swims, and the Farallones in general.

It seems that the shark population made a significant rebound after the Islands were made a wildlife preserve in 1969, so maybe at the time of the swims it was a *little* less dangerous! Also, there were several attempts before these 2 successful swims, and everyone survived, so perhaps it wasn't quite as insane as I was imagining it!

Still - quite an accomplishment! Very cool.

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