..Umbra, born about June, 1990 and found six months later as an unclaimed stray, was adopted by Ted Erikson and Diane Richards. Of sleek body and short all black hair, her lineage is unknown, but even as a puppy she exhibited a Labrador's love of water and a Greyhound's love of running. Umbra began swimming tandem with Erikson in Lake Michigan during the summer of 1991, establishing a benchmark of a 32-minute mile. Over the summer of 1992, Umbra decreased her mile time to 28.5 minutes and covered distances up to three miles while pacing Nial Funchion, who went on to complete an English Channel crossing that year.
Umbra has pioneered canine swimming with four 'first' records filed with the Guinness Book of World Records :
* A round trip Peace River crossing in Port Charlotte, Fl on 3/9/94 (2.4 miles,65 min.)
*An open water Lake Michigan swim in Chicago, IL on 7/10/94 (2.7 miles, 72 min.)
*A Bosphorus crossing (Asia to Europe) in Turkey on 7/22/95 (~2 miles, 31 min.)
*Big Shoulders Masters Lake Swim in Chicago, IL on 9/8/96 (3.1 miles, 77 min.)
In 1997 she was invited by the Turkish Olympic Committee to swim in their annual competition on 7/27/97, finishing about 40th in a field of ~200 swimmers (4.3 miles, 73 min.), This was covered by a National Geographic Explorer's TV documentary, "WONDER DOG". Three days later they went on to swim the Dardanelles in Canakkale, the site of the legend of Leander and Hero.
Other swims include the youngest (and only canine) in Ft. Lauderdale's Ocean Mile Hall of Fame (1/2/93) and three Swim Across America Chicago relays (8/17/94, 6/29/96, and 7/31/99).
Umbra has logged well over 600 miles in tandem swimming with, joined in polar bear New Year's day lake dips, and credited with an unofficial record of 5.5 miles in 2 hours and 40 minutes. ECG monitor records show pulse rates from 40 to 250 beats per minute (resting to maximum). Besides swimming (see below), windsurfing, jet skiing, playing hockey, or in service for her hearing impaired owner, she pursues typical dog activities like stalking squirrels.
Enough of the dog!
..Trademark picture,circa 1965!
Ted Erikson was born February 17, 1928 in Chicago but grew up on a ranch in Montana far away from water. He started marathon swimming at age 33 in 1961 as the first person to swim across Lake Michigan. His career peaked in 1965 with a world record double crossing of the English Channel which stood for 10 years until broken by his, Jon...who went on to the first "triple"! Still untouched by anyone is Ted's 31.5 mile swim from the Farallon Islands to the Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, CA) across frigid shark infested waters in 14 hours and 38 minutes on September 16, 1967.
As a professional swim marathonner, Ted did only 8 (3 Lake Michigan, Atlantic City, 3 La Tuque and Lac St. Jean), while his son Jon went on to finance his college career with dozens (5 Lac St. Jean, 3 La Tuque, Guaymas, Argentina, Chibougamou, Hamilton, Pasbebiac, and my memory fails me on others). Click Lac St. Jean link at right for statistics on his 20th to 24th La Traversees.
Erikson's marathon swim background has guided four proteges in English Channel swimming for a total of 14 successful crossings (11 by his son, Jon). He is now semi-retired after nearly 40 years of research and teaching experience in the physical sciences, devoting his energies to swimming with his dog, producing and editing videos, and, as an old "slide-rule" man, learning the new-fangled world of computers.
Swimming history (details):
- Amateur: (a) South Shore High School, Chicago, 1942-5 (backstroke); (b) USN Submarine Base, Key West, 1947-8 (800 and 1500m Free); (c) Illinois Institute of Technology Varsity, Chicago, 1948-52, (220yd., 440yd. and 100yd free relay leg)...no further action until 1961.
- Lake Michigan swims:
(a) Chicago, IL to Michigan City, IN, 8/20-1/61, 36.75 miles in 36 hrs.,37 min. as the ONLY finisher in a local field of 6.
(b) Chicago, IL to Kenosha, WI, 8/21-2/62, 50 miles in 35 hrs., 37 min., finishing 2nd in national field of 14.
(c)Chicago, IL to St. Joseph, MI, 8/20-1/62, 60 miles in 37 hrs., 25 min., finishing 2nd in an international field of 25.
- English Channel swims:
(a) CSA sanctioned England-France crossing, 8/30-1/64, 12 hrs, 25 min. 2nd fastest time (on way to double).
(b)CSA sanctioned England-France England double crossing, 9/19-21/65, 30 hrs., 3 min. (after 2 aborted computer programmed attempts on 9/13 and 9/14 spring tides).
- Professional competitions:
(a) 27-mile 1963 Atlantic City Marathon Swim, finishing 8th in field of 19
(b) 24-mile Lac St. Jean, Quebec, Canada Marathon swim, finishing 9th in field of 25. (c) 24-hour team of 2 marathon swims (with Dennis Matuch) 1963-5, La Tuque, Quebec, Canada, finishing 3rd, 7th, amd 9th.
- Still-standing solo record!(as of 1999): 31.5 mile Farallone Island to Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, CA, 9/16/67, 14 hrs., 35 min. (after two previous attempts in 1966, aborted due to hypothermia and seasickness)
(a)12-mile Chain o' Lakes swim fro Winter Haven, FL to Cypress Gardens, 9/22/61, 4 hrs. 4 min.
(b)40-mile pool swim (3,520 lengths) at Illinois Athletic Club, Chicago, IL, 4/4-5/63, 22 hrs. 17 min.
- Ted's son, Jon Erikson, will require a separate page because his records are an order of magnitude greater than the above. He has 11 English Channel crossings from 1969-1981 (4 singles, 2 doubles, and the world's first triple ) and crossed Lake Michigan from Michigan City to Chicago (establishing a new record!). He paid for his college education by swimming many professional marathon swims in in Quwbec (Canada), Guaymas (Mexico), and Mar del Plata (Argentina). Ted is lucky to have a dog that he can beat with fins!
Links to prestigous solo/professional swim sites and notable marathon swimmers
NEW web site of Channel Swim Association, sanctioning all swims since 1927!
Lac St.Jean (Canada)
Oldest pro swim race in the world, the 51st coming in in 2005!!
Latest 2001 schedule of professional marathon swim races
Manhattan Island (USA)
The famous round Manhattan Island of New York City Swim
Tampa Bay (USA)
A marathon swim in Florida
Key West (USA)
Around the Island of Key West Florida
Swimming Hall of Fame
Some marathon stuff.. broad information on swimming; coaches, swimmers, gift shop...
Some miscellaneous related sites:
Aussie Ron Ellercamp's look at swimming from down under.
Marathon swim stories
Swims by Sing, Ederle, Cox, Renford, amd Poenisch (nice stories)
Brian Finlays looks at BLDSA, Lake Ontario, and others
This is a German look at swimming
An African Site
Open water swimming in South Africa
Open water swimming in British Columbia
The Catalina Swim Federaion, a start-up?
Miscellaneous links to others not here.
Nice history of Abou, almost as great as Ted
A top swimmer (personal friend) of yesteryear
George YoungYoung and old Canadian swimmers
Tammy van Wisse
A remarkable Australian female marathonner
A legendary Brazilian marathonner
Streeter & Walker stories
English Channel swimmer, with story and links
First Malaysian Channel crosser
Interesting site re: open water
Chicago Marathons and France ResourcePages by request
2005 Stewart swim
Photos & Observer Report
Updated 9/08/05;Add yours here!
Will put related marathon (or canine) swim links if you e-mail URL. email@example.com