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USA Triathlon

International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame

World Open Water Swimming Association
Ripley's Believe it or Not
Stan Lee's Superhumans
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Jim Dreyer's
23 Groundbreaking Achievements

Event Descriptions & Stats

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(Past & Present)
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1998:  August 1-3
Swim for New Horizons - Lake Michigan

Completed swim across Lake Michigan, equivalent to three times the width of the English Channel. 

  • First to swim mid-lake crossing of Lake Michigan between Wisconsin and Michigan.  Started at Rawley Point Lighthouse (WI).  Finished at Big Sable Point Lighthouse (MI).

  • Lake Michigan distance record:  65.0 miles in 40 hours, 56 minutes.

1999:  September 4-5
Swim for New Horizons - Lake Huron

Completed swim across Lake Huron from Point Aux Barques Lighthouse (Michigan) to Point Clark Lighthouse (Ontario).  Fastest to cross lake while swimming the furthest.  

  • Lake Huron distance record:  52.3 miles

  • Lake Huron speed record:  39 hours, 38 minutes

2000:  July 23-24
Tri for New Horizons - Lake Erie

Completed swim across Lake Erie from Presque Isle, Pennsylvania to tip of Long Point on north shore and ran marathon to Port Rowan, Ontario (17.1 miles of run in beach sand). 

  • First to swim across a Great Lake as part of an aquathlon.

  • Solo aquathlon world distance record:  Furthest & first double-digit mileage swim (30.4 miles) with 26.2-mile marathon run in continuous event.  Total time: 26 hours, 47 minutes.

2000:  August 25-27
Tri for New Horizons - Lake Ontario

Completed solo triathlon in Ontario, Canada, starting with marathon run from tip of Long Point on Lake Erie to Port Rowan (17.1 miles of run in beach sand), continuing with bike segment to Niagara-on-the-Lake. and finishing with swim across Lake Ontario to Toronto (with partial return).   

  • First to swim across a Great Lake as part of a triathlon.

  • Solo triathlon world distance record:  Furthest & first double-digit mileage swim (55.9 miles) as part of "Ironman distance plus" triathlon.  This 212.1-mile continuous event included a 26.2-mile marathon run and 130-mile bicycle segment.  Total time: 48 hours, 13 minutes.

2001:  August 15-16
Quest for Gitche Gumee - Lake Superior

Swam from Grand Portage, Minnesota, bound for McLain State Park near Hancock, Michigan, in attempt to cross Lake Superior.  Swim halted after blown 20 miles off course by wind, 15-foot waves; and boat taking on water.

  • Lake Superior distance record:  47.0 miles in 35 hours, 57 minutes.

2002:  August 30-31
Quest for Gitche Gumee - Lake Superior

​Swam from McLain State Park near Hancock, Michigan, bound for Grand Portage, Minnesota, in attempt to swim across Lake Superior.  Pulled from water at Isle Royale, Michigan, due to multiple medical issues brought on primarily by water temperatures falling to 37 degrees.

  • Lake Superior distance record:  48.0 miles in 37 hours, 38 minutes.

2003:  September 8 - October 7
Lake Michigan 350
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Swam the length of Lake Michigan self-sufficiently, towing supplies in a kayak (averaging 100 pounds) from Michigan City, Indiana, to the Mackinac Bridge in the Straits of Mackinac.  The month-long journey was completed in 18 consecutives stages along the eastern shoreline, swimming day and night, with approximately 5-6 hours of sleep and ground support between stages. 

  • First to swim length of a Great Lake.

  • World distance record for staged, self-sufficient swim:  Covered an estimated 422 miles in a running time of 29 days, 8 hours, 3 minutes.

2004:  August 3-4
Gitche Gumee 100 - Lake Superior

Completed ultra-marathon run in Grand Portage, Minnesota, and began attempt to swim across Lake Superior, bound for McLain State Park near Hancock, Michigan.  Pulled from water at mid-lake due to medical implications of severe foot infection incurred during the run. 

  • Solo aquathlon world distance record:  Longest swim (35.5 miles) with ultra-marathon run (27.0 miles) in continuous event.  Total time: 43 hours, 22 minutes. 

2005:  August 1-3
Solo Superior

Completed self-sufficient swim across Lake Superior from Whitefish Point Michigan, to Cape Gargantua, Ontario, towing supplies in a dinghy (325 pounds) and doing his own navigating.  

  • First self-sufficient swim across a Great Lake.

  • World distance record for continuous, self-sufficient swim:  58.9 miles in 59 hours, 50 minutes.  

  • Lake Superior distance record (see above).

  • First to set records swimming across all five Great Lakes (second to cross all five).

Straits of Mackinac Swims

After completing the Great Lakes Ultra-Marathon Series, a.k.a. the "Drive for Five," and before launching into "strength-swimming," Jim Dreyer made quite a splash in the Straits of Mackinac.  He became known as the "King of the Straits," crossing these notoriously treacherous waters that connect lakes Michigan and Huron numerous times ... including 12 times just in 2006 & 2007, while training for and completing the following two record-setting events.  

2006:  August 29-30
Dreyer's Dire Straits

Swam a self-sufficient double crossing of the Straits of Mackinac, towing his supplies in a buoy and navigating the busy shipping channel on his own.  The double-crossing was only part of a 40.0-mile swim all within the turbulent Straits.​

  • First to swim a self-sufficient double-crossing of the Straits of Mackinac (second to complete a double-crossing).

2007:  September 7
Mighty Mac Swim (1st)

Swam a triple-crossing of the Straits of Mackinac, in celebration of the Mackinac Bridge's 50th anniversary.  Relentless cross-currents nearly doubled the 12-mile distance of a triple crossing (if able to stay alongside the bridge).   

Jim Dreyer performed his solo swim in conjunction with organizing the first Mighty Mac Swim for 50 swimmers, held on Labor Day (September 3).  Under Dreyer's direction, this public swim (and top fundraiser), would become a popular internationally sanctioned race and feature 400 swimmers by 2019.  

  • First to swim a triple-crossing of Straits of Mackinac:  21.1 miles in 14 hours, 13 minutes.

2013:  August 5-7
Cornerstone Strength Swim - Detroit

Pulled a half-ton of bricks while swimming self-sufficiently across Lake St. Clair from Clinton River Boat Club near Algonac, Michigan, to Detroit.  Towed a full ton of bricks before losing half of his load in rough seas.

  • First to incorporate marathon-distance swimming in a record-setting feat of strength.

  • First to pull 1,000 – 2,000 pounds of bricks in swim across Lake St. Clair:  22.0+ miles in 51 hours, 42 minutes (approximately 18 hours with 2,000 pounds, 33.7 hours with 1,000 pounds).  Note:  The 2 dinghies carrying the bricks each weighed an additional 100 pounds.  Equipment and supplies added approximately another 100 pounds.

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2013:  Around the World Milestone

While not official, and not an exact measurement, it is estimated that Jim Dreyer eclipsed 25,000 total swimming miles (equivalent to swimming around the world) in early 2013, while training for the Cornerstone Strength Swim - Detroit.

2013:  December 11
Stan Lee's Superhumans

Towed a 27-ton car ferry, plus crew of 3 and supplies, while swimming across Newport Beach Harbor in California, for the filming of Stan Lee's Superhumans. While a scientist on the show claimed that this feat was impossible, Dreyer predicted he would complete the swim in 4 hours.  His performance would greatly surpass even his own predictions.

  • First to tow a 27+ ton car ferry in swim across Newport Beach Harbor:  300 yards in 54 minutes, 29 seconds.

2015:  August 15
Cornerstone Strength Swim - Mackinac Island

Towed barge carrying a car (weighing 19 tons), plus crew of 4 and supplies, from St. Ignace, Michigan, bound for Mackinac Island.  After being swept far off course and swimming nearly 3 times the normal distance to the island while pulling the weight, he was separated from the barge after 10 hours in order to make landfall against an overpowering current.  This added approximately another 4 miles and 4 hours to the overall swim. 

  • First to tow 19+ ton barge 9.3 miles in 10 hours.


The records listed consider whether a swim was escorted or self-sufficient, continuous or staged, whether weight was towed, and whether it was part of a multi-sport event.  Records are based strictly on considering the distances, times, and weights recorded at the time the record-setting events occurred.  While other factors may be recorded, they are not considered in these records.

Swim distances are GPS readings of actual distances swum.  Exception:  The 422-mile Lake Michigan 350 distance is an estimate using known point-to-point distances and adding mileage to account for unplanned deviations to the course, figured in part from sporadic GPS waypoints set by Jim Dreyer during the swim (when off course).

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