Jon Ornée and friends swim across Lake Michigan

From staff reports

Remember Jon Ornée, the athlete who swam the 7.4 miles from Pyramid Point to North Manitou Island in less than 3 hours last September? Tonight Ornée is pursuing another freshwater challenge.

On Tuesday night, August 11, and into Wednesday, Aug. 12—under the Perseid meteor shower—Ornée and five friends are swimming 60 miles across Lake Michigan, from Two Rivers, Wisconsin, to Ludington, Michigan. They started their epic adventure at 7:15 p.m EST (6:15 in Wisconsin) and expect it to take 24-28 hours.

EpicSwim2020 will be the second ever mid-lake crossing, the first- ever relay crossing and potentially the fastest-ever mid-lake crossing. Jim Dreyer completed the only mid-lake crossing in 1998 as a solo effort. The team of Jon and Dave Ornée, Nick Hobson, Matt Smith, Todd Suttor, and Jeremy Sall plan to follow the original route. With currents added to his mileage, Dreyer swam 65 miles in just under 41 hours.

EpicSwim2020’s charity partner is FLOW (For Love of Water), the Traverse City-based law and policy center protecting the Great Lakes. (Full disclosure: Glen Arbor Sun editor Jacob Wheeler also works for FLOW.)

Ornée and his buddies had originally planned to swim across Lake Michigan in early August, but cold lake temperatures forced them to wait until tonight. A support boat is joined them for the journey as they targeted tonight and tomorrow—a period with west winds and calm-ish seas.

“Lake Michigan is a beautiful beast,” said Jon Ornée. “We want this swim to honor this amazing body of water and we have great respect for Mother Nature. We need her blessing for a safe, successful passage.”

Learn more at, follow along via the Epic Swim 2020’s Facebook page, or track the swimmers’ route live here.