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‘It’s All Good’ Episode 17: The Man Who Conquered The Lake

Ted Erikson, 93, reflects on his history-making swim across Lake Michigan 60 years ago.

Ted Erikson and old friend Warren Sopher reminisce by the water 60 years after celebrating Erikson's historic crossing of Lake Michigan to Michigan City.
Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago

HYDE PARK — Ted Erikson has swam in large bodies of water across the world, but it’s Lake Michigan he loves most.

“Oh, it’s my doll,” the 93-year-old Hyde Park resident says on “It’s All Good.” “It’s my big swimming pool.”

On Aug. 21, 1961, Erikson became the first known person to swim across Lake Michigan. He swam for more than 36 hours in stormy conditions, reaching Michigan City by way of Promontory Point.

On Episode 17 of Block Club’s podcast, Erikson reflects on the history-making swim and his connection to water.

“I’m a water lover. I connect with it. It’s a feeling that’s hard to explain to those who don’t swim,” Erikson says.

Episode 17 shifts from Lake Michigan to the pool at Humboldt Park’s Roberto Clemente Community Academy, where Miriam Franchi’s relaunched a boys swim team for the first time in 25 years.

Franchi’s story was featured on “It’s All Good” Episode 1, and she offers an update to her efforts to create a girl’s team at the school.

Franchi grew up in Humboldt Park and was on the girls swim team at Roberto Clemente in the late 2000s. She said being on the team — practicing every day after school with her teammates and competing in meets — taught her important life skills she’s carried with her into adulthood.

“This was my therapy; this was my home away from home. It was how I got through my day-to-day,” Franchi said. “Swimming here competitively was one of the biggest things that gave me the confidence to do whatever I wanted.”

Credit: Provided
The boys swim team at Roberto Clemente Community Academy with coach Miriam Franchi.

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Listen to all ‘It’s All Good’ episodes here: