Man, 49, embarks on 35-kilometre swim across lake while hauling ton of bricks

The Shark is in the water. And he will be for a while.

Long-distance swimmer , who calls himself “The Shark,” jumped into Lake St. Clair near the Michigan- on Monday morning to begin what he hopes will be a 35-kilometre success story — all while hauling a ton of bricks.

The soon-to-be-50-year-old planned to come ashore 30 hours later on Tuesday afternoon at Detroit’s Belle Isle to greet fans, well-wishers and representatives of , the charity that inspired Dreyer to undertake his latest swim.

I’m always coming up with these

He was just beyond the one-third point at 7:45 p.m. EDT Monday, a monitoring system showed, and spokeswoman and Murphy said he texted her that he was doing fine.

A 22-mile swim across Lake St. Clair is like a dip in the water for a guy who has direct crossings of all five Great Lakes under his swim belt.

AP Photo/Carlos OsorioAP Photo/Carlos OsorioLong-distance swimmer Jim Dreyer takes off from the Clinton River Boat Club in Clay Township, Mich., Monday, Aug. 5, 2013 to swim across Lake St. Clair while hauling filled with 2,000 pounds of bricks.

So to make it interesting, Dreyer is carrying two dinghies filled with 334 bricks. And he’s swimming solo without a .

At a weight of 6 pounds per brick, the motivational speaker from , Mich., is towing more than 2,000 pounds behind him. Dreyer calls it his “.”

After his crew of three loaded up the dinghies with bricks, food, drink and other essentials for the trip Monday morning, Dreyer waded out into the waters off of the Clinton River Boat Club in Clay Township near Algonac.

He donned his wetsuit, took a and the crew affixed the dinghies to Dreyer’s ankles. He then looked in the distance, gazing at the Renaissance Center towers that comprise General Motors’ headquarters.

AP Photo/Carlos OsorioAP Photo/Carlos OsorioChuck Premer, a medic, top, and Nate Zandee prepare two rafts with supplies and 1,000 pounds of bricks each at the Clinton River Boat Club in Clay Township, Mich., Monday, Aug. 5, 2013 in advance of long-distance swimmer Jim Dreyer's swim across Lake St. Clair while hauling the dinghies.

“Next stop, Detroit,” he said, before hitting the water to the delight of the onlookers who had gathered to see him get started.

Dreyer is swimming with a GPS tracking device that will post his position online. It also comes equipped with a messaging system that allows him to communicate with the outside .

At the touch of a button, Dreyer can send out three pre-programmed messages.

One lets his crew know he’s OK. A second tells them he’s not and to send a boat to his position. A third shows that he’s in a life-threatening situation and requires immediate assistance from the Coast Guard.

He’s been in tough situations before, overcoming high waves during his 95-kilometre crossing of Lake Superior and falling ill, vomiting repeatedly and dropping 20 pounds while swimming across Lake Huron.

He feels better about his chances for this swim.

Dreyer has been preparing since October, doing strength training, completing 32-kilometre swims and at one point towing a 6,000-pound boat in the water.

“I’m confident that if anyone on this planet can do this, it’s me,” Dreyer said with a smile.

AP Photo/Carlos OsorioAP Photo/Carlos OsorioChuck Premer, left, a medic, helps long-distance swimmer Jim Dreyer with his tow cords before taking off from the Clinton River Boat Club in Clay Township, Mich., Monday, Aug. 5, 2013 to swim across Lake St. Clair while hauling dinghies filled with 2,000 pounds of bricks.

Water temperatures are expected to remain in the 20- to 22-degree range, which pleased Dreyer, and he’s hoping the weather remains calm.

The holder of a number of world records for endurance swimming, Dreyer said he expects to set one this time around for longest distance swimming while towing a ton of bricks — a record that doesn’t currently exist.

“Nobody has ever pulled a ton of bricks any distance,” he said. “Pretty surprising, right?”

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Records aside, Dreyer’s true motivation is Habitat for Humanity of Michigan, with whom he has helped fund building projects for up to 75 affiliates through his swim fundraising, called the Cornerstone Strength Swim Campaign.

Engraved commemorative bricks, including the bricks towed by Dreyer, are being sold to support the building project of the purchaser’s choice.

As for what’s next on Dreyer’s agenda following the “ton of bricks swim,” he’s not saying just yet.

“I’m always coming up with these crazy ideas,” he said.


About Mike Householder, Associated Press