Ted Erikson, the First Person to Swim Across Lake Michigan, Dies at 93

by Chris Oleksiak 5

December 06th, 2021 Masters, News, Open Water

Chicago-area open water swimmer Ted Erikson has died at the age of 93. In 1961, Erikson became the first person to swim across Lake Michigan. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Erikson wanted his ashes to be scattered in the same Lake that he conquered 60 years ago

Erikson was a research chemist, with a Masters in chemistry from the Illinois Institute of Technology, who began swimming because he “needed some exercise”. He was still swimming up until a few months ago when an injury forced him into rehab. 

In 1965, Erikson became the second person to swim the English channel round-trip (England to France and then back to England), setting a record time of 30 hours and 3 minutes. That record stood until Erikson’s son, Jon, broke it a decade later. 

In addition to his Lake Michigan and English Channel swims, in 1967 Erikson completed a 28 mile swim from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge through Great White shark-infested waters. According to Erikson’s daughter, the captain in the boat following Erikson had a rifle that he used to “shoot at sharks that were getting too close”. 

Erikson is a member of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame. He also worked at the Illinois Institute of Technology for 21 years and taught math, physics, and chemistry at Hammond Technical High School.

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BigBadBear
1 month ago

3 hours and 3 minutes double crossing of the English Channel?

BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

From the Sun-Times article: “After emerging from the water, he told reporters: “I used to drink martinis and smoke a pack and a half of cigarettes a day.” But he said he gave up those habits a year before his lake crossing.”

Looks like there’s hope for all of us.

Tomek
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

And he lived 93 years!

BearlyBreathing
Reply to  Tomek
1 month ago

This is what his Lake Michigan swim looks like, excuted in 1961 and viewed from 2021.
Are you as outraged as I am that Google Maps doesn’t yet include the ‘Swim’ travel option?comment image

Last edited 1 month ago by BearlyBreathing
John
Reply to  BearlyBreathing
1 month ago

So outraged!