All week leading up to this year’s Big Shoulders, the weather looked dicey.  The air temps dropped from the 90s to the 60s on Thursday, and Friday it was misting and cloudy with 3 foot waves. However, the race management team had their eyes on the NOAA forecast, and had faith in science.  Luckily, it proved accurate, as the morning dawned on September 9, 2023 with a glorious sunrise to greet the crew as the UIC Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving teams were hard at work setting up for the racers to arrive.  The water was a very comfortable 70 degrees, with some 1-2 foot chop rolling in from the NE, nothing our intrepid swimmers couldn’t handle.
We honored our departed friends and teammates who are no longer with us during the pre-race talk.  For those who missed it (or couldn’t hear) here are the highlights:

Bill Mulliken -1960 Gold Medalist for USA, founder of this event and former president of CM
Sam Kooistra – member of the 1956 US Olympic waterpolo team, former teammate at CM
George Wendt – former world record holder in the mile for 60-64 age group, president of CM
George Yanos – longtime CM swimmer, my friend and neighbor, and beloved dad, grandpa
Russ Hafner – stalwart in the Chicago OW community, master chef, brother and friend
Geoff Mykleby – a beloved dentist and accomplished masters swimmer (Schroeder Y in MKE) Kevin Kelley – these all hit close to home, but Kevin was a beloved father of 4 daughters (I have 4 daughters) who succumbed to lymphoma 6 weeks after swimming BS last year. Has an impressive resume of OW swims.
Terry Laughlin – passed a few years ago. Swam BS a number of times, was generous with his time, and wrote what some consider to be the preeminent text on swimming, Total Immersion
Sue Frost – though she never swam BS, she was the ultimate swim parent for Lindsay Abney, went to every meet, and came to Lindsey’s first BS in 2011.

On the good side, we saw some fast and fantastic swims. For the second time, Danielle Schumacher was the overall winner with a time of 1:02:54.  The second woman was Dana Gianniny, and Kelly Link came in third. For the men, Bailer Biwer was the winner, with Don Secor in second, and Devon Healy in third. In the 2.5K women’s division, we saw Lauren Rose was the winner, with Jamie Haseman in second,  and Jessica Achstatter come in 3rd.  For the men, William Weaver got the win, with Eric Arndt in second and Michael Hogarty in third. The overall winners in the 5K wetsuit division were Marcelo Ehrhardt for the men, and Clare Bellendir for the women.  In the 2.5K wetsuit division, Joshua Carlson won for the men, and Tory Ondrla for the women. Congratulations to all of our swimmers!

On the lucky side, we are so fortunate to have so many amazing volunteers.  We want to thank and recognize the help of Bob Lewis, Marcia Cleveland, Chris Layton, Candace Cham, Tom Clune, Jordan Alexis, Julie Parilla, Ken Love, Kyle Geissler, Ashley Dell, Danny Sivak, Susan Bromberg, Jim Tuchler, Chief Jason Lach and the Chicago Fire Department Marine Unit, the Chicago Park District, and the UIC Men’s and Women’s Swimming and Diving Teams. We were also fortunate to have amazing sponsors, including A3, Big Shoulders Coffee, Sheean Design, H2Q Swim Labs, Big Shoulders BBQ, Indiana University Orthopedics & Sports Medicine,, Corey’s New York Deli and the USA Swimming Foundation.

We are incredibly lucky to have the support of so many loyal swimmers, and want to thank you for your ongoing support. We hope you can join us again next year for Big Shoulders 33 on September 7, 2024.

Results are available HERE for Big Shoulders 2023

HERE is a cool video USMS made of last year's race, to showcase our awesome event.