What does it take to set an open-water world distance record by swimming across Lake Michigan? For Jamie Patrick, who’s attempting just that on August 22, it takes $145,000, an Emmy-winning documentary crew, a sports psychologist, and untold hours of swimming in his Endless Pool.
Dubbed “The Great Lake Swim™,” Patrick’s feat will take an estimated 45 hours and 250,000 arm strokes to traverse the 71 miles from Milwaukee Bay to Chicago Harbor. To build his endurance for this unprecedented swim, the 43-year-old Bay Area family man sometimes dives into the San Francisco Bay. Often, though, he uses the 14’x7’ Endless Pool in his garage.
“It’s my greatest training tool,” Patrick said of his Endless Pool in a 2011 interview. “I can change the water temperature and swim against varying currents. It’s even got a mirror on the bottom so I can correct my stroke.”
The stamina he developed in his Endless Pool helped him successfully swim 111 miles down the Sacramento River, and that led to his being named Open Water Swimming’s 2011 Man of the Year.
During that swim, he was not allowed to touch the boat or stop swimming when he ate; the same rules will hold during The Great Lake Swim. He’s even forgoing a wetsuit, though Lake Michigan’s August water temperature typically remains in the 60s.
"When Jamie completes this swim, it will be the longest documented traditional solo marathon swim ever done," according to Scott Zornig, president of the Santa Barbara Channel Swimming Association. International Marathon Swimming Hall of Famer Steve Munatones calls it “one of the most difficult swims in human history.”
This swim will make history for another reason – it’s being billed as the “first true ‘social broadcast.’” Producer and Emmy Award-winning cinematographer Doug Stanley (Deadliest Catch) and his crew will stream the entire event live on Facebook, via the SmackDab video platform.
That documentation and live streaming account for the bulk of the swim’s $145,000 budget, currently being raised via an Indiegogo campaign. The funds will pay for about 45 production and crewmembers, equipment and boat rentals, and a range of miscellaneous costs from permits to dedicated cell towers.
“Near the end of my swim, my body will be depleted to a point where it will begin to eat my muscle structure,” Jamie reports on his Indigogo page. “It’s a fun and scary thought, but I feel it needs to be shared with the world. This swim represents me as a man, a father, an adventure swimmer, as a friend, and as someone who hopefully encourages others to push themselves like I push myself.”