The George F. Wendt Memorial
Results are available HERE.


The George F. Wendt Memorial
Big Shoulders 5K & 2.5K Open Water Classic

Visited By An Angel

As dawn broke over Lake Michigan on Saturday, September 10, 2022 for the 32nd Meeting of Big Shoulders, we knew it wasn’t just another day.  We knew that our dear friend George was watching over us, and had worked out a favor to provide us with an absolutely perfect morning.  The water was calm and 72 degrees, perfect for all but the channel swimmers who showed up hoping for high 50s. 

It was a bittersweet day as we remembered George Wendt, the swimming icon, family man, and friend to all who knew him.  As hard as it was to be at Big Shoulders with out George for the first time, there was no doubt he would have wanted the race to continue, and for swimmers from around the country and the globe to gather together to celebrate the joy that is open water swimming. 

The fast conditions didn’t disappoint – we saw some fast times, and for the first time in the history of Big Shoulders, the overall winner of the 5K was a woman, superstar Danielle Schumacher.  If you know Danielle, not a big surprise.  Her big smile and friendly attitude may disarm you at first, but make no mistake, this girl can swim!  Danielle came in at 1:08:20, with Tyler Hines, the first male swimmer, coming in 39 seconds later.  Rounding out the women’s 5K were Dana Gianniny (1:12:43) and Ella Wood (1:15:30).  For the lads, Ryan Downey came in second at 1:09:16, and Casey Ketterling (1:09:45) rounding out the finishers.

The neoprene assisted folks had a good showing in the 5K, with Chicago Masters’ own Bob Lewis taking top honors in 1:10:31, followed by Todd Walter (1:11:44) and Chris Scharver (1:14:16).  Polly Surhoff returned to crush the competition at 1:13:22, followed by Chicago Masters stalwarts, Janet Goodridge (1:16:55) and Susan Fanning (1:20:07).  For the 2.5K wetsuit division, Fares Ksebati returned to show us how it’s done, finishing first in 33:45, nearly two minutes ahead of second place swimmer Mark Hallman (35:29).  Maurice Tetzlaff came in third at 36:56.  For the women, Jennifer Vallo was first (38:19), followed by Jessica Achtstatter (39:08) and Brittany Turner (40:55).

Heidi Musser, born without sight, returned to demonstrate that great things can be accomplished by those willing to put in the hard work.  Heidi was guided and supported by her teammates from Swedish Fish.  Many others overcame physical and mental barriers to complete the swim.  Among the many great parts of the morning was seeing all on the beach converge at the water’s edge to cheer on the last swimmer as she crossed the finish line.  Such a great community we have! 

Many, many thanks to the volunteers, without whom this race would not be possible.  Thanks to Bob Lewis, the best co-pilot a guy could ask for! Thanks to Candace Cham, Kyle Geissler, Katie Marchetti and David Hines for their help in getting hot coffee, cold drinks and food to the swimming masses.  Thanks to the Chicago Fire Marine Unit, especially Chief Jason Lach, and thanks to the Chicago Park District Lifeguards for keeping us all safe.  Thanks to the UIC Swimming and Diving Coaches Ashley Dell, Susan Bromberg and Danny Sivak, and to all the swimmers and divers who came with smiles on their faces to support the race.  Thanks to Dr. Steve Hartsock and their medical team for providing on the beach support.  Finally, thanks to our awesome sponsors: A3, Big Shoulders BBQ, Big Shoulders Coffee, SBR, Indiana University Sports Medicine Group and Sheean Design.

Finally, thanks to all who registered, swam, and came out to support the event.  Big Shoulders continues after 32 years thanks to the support and community you all have created. 

THE 32nd ANNUAL BIG SHOULDERS 5K & 2.5K SWIM WILL BE HELD ON SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 9, 2023.  Registration will open on March 1, 2023. 


Registration for 2023 opens on March 1, 2023.