Official Results - Updated 09/10/2012

5K Longcourse Results

2.5K Shortcourse Results

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A View From the Beach - Big Shoulders Pushes Back

Did you ever have a day, in work or play, when nothing seems to be going your way? When every move forward is met with a little friendly pushback? Nothing personal, of course. Its just business. Yet it was very personal this morning, Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012, for around 1000 swimmers who tussled with the waters of Lake Michigan. This year, Lake Michigan pushed back, with water and swimmers going every which way. Nothing personal, of course. Just business.

When it comes to the business of open water swimming, none is more affable yet capable than proud Dad, devoted husband and our favorite race's Tsar, Chris Sheean. Everything was right on the mark this year, business as usual for Chris, from race logistics to the helpful guidance messages on weather and hypothermia. Big Shoulders is still a community, albeit a bigger one, and we all care for each other out there in the choppy soup. It is the sight of others churning along on lap two that helps keep everyone going to the end.

The best news of the day came from an unlikely source, the EMT trauma team tent-ed diligently on the sand and waiting for customers. Hardly anyone came! Hooray! We throw an intrepid race, invite swimmers from all over the country to come meet the challenge, and we walk away healthier and happier. Who could argue with that? Even when Lake Michigan pushes back, the hearty denizens of Big Shoulders treat it as -- you guessed it -- just business, nothing personal.

The best visit of the day came from Race Founder Bill Mulliken, who made his cameo in high style then slipped away, knowing everything was in capable hands. It must please Bill to see his creation mature each year and bring so much challenge and fulfillment to so many swimmers. Olympic Gold Medal Winner Bill Mulliken is a man whose influence has extended to all swimmers pushing their way around that big triangle course.

Now lets get down to the nitty gritty -- how was the course and how did we fare? A persistent northwest wind made big waves that kept pounding the breakwater and creating some strange chop on the first and second leg, especially around the openings. As Chris said in his opening course remarks, "you will earn your doughnuts on that first leg" where the current was constantly slapping swimmers back seemingly to the start line. You round the first cone and what do you get? More of the same! Strange currents and more chop met us all, at least from the perspective of butterflier Tom Boettcher. "I think this may have been one of the toughest years for backstretch chop, though maybe I felt it differently than the long-axis freestylers. They weren't complaining, but they were swerving all over the place. Seemed like I was swimming into a fire hose, at least until the white condo turn. Then it was all downhill, like a surfing a wave."

Those that pushed the hardest against our weather -whipped waves win the prize and the glory. In the 5K overall, Adam Dawkins and Barbara Richter went one -two. Wow, what a pair of swims! Dawkins' overall fastest time of 59:33 left everyone far behind and set a standard for tough conditions. Barbara showed the men and women how its done with her 1:01.51. In the 2.5 K once-around, Liz Dillman and Kelly McNichols stole the show and went one-two. Liz is a familiar name at the top and went 33:03, while Kelly was ten seconds behind. Previous winner Rafal Szukala was another two seconds behind that, but in first for the men. Nice job ladies and great swims overall!

In the Perennial Perseverates category, George Wendt, Tim Kelley, Laurie Tanamura and Dennis Miller were back again, holding onto their perfect Big Shoulders record of having completed every 5 K since the beginning. Tim is a great help with race logistics and a credit to the swim community. With a kid heading off to Amherst, we suspect this hearty construction mgmt head honcho will become quite philosophical -- or quite broke -- in years to come. Says Tim, "our starting line reminder for my age-group is that a little chest pain is par for the course!" Of course, George Wendt continues to make swimming a family affair. With grandson in tow, he continues to provide example of quiet dignity and resolve as he maintains his fitness and competitive drive each year. Getting down to business, he went 1 hour, 11 minutes….Whaaa? That is really moving on a choppy day! Of course, Laurie Tanamura was back for 5K as well as her famous ski gear to make certain that unexpected snowstorms do not catch her off-guard. Remember, it did start off quite cold this morning. Dennis Miller once again completed the 5K swim, though he hears the bicycle calling his name.

In a pushback year, when its just business, the Business of Butterfly commenced in relentless fashion. Big Shoulders butterfly pioneer Tom Boettcher was back for his thirteenth 5 K all fly, pounding out a sturdy swim. Tom is coming off a butterfly and ballet summer, where on Sunday, July 15, he first crossed the Brooklyn Bridge all fly, then taxied over to Lincoln Center still smelling of East River to dance the matinee of "Bolero" with the Paris Opera Ballet. Are the two similar, we asked? "There is no question that having command over your alignment and use of your core is key to success in butterfly, freestyle, dancing, picking up luggage or tossing a ball. Being hired by Paris Opera Ballet for their US Summer Tour just reinforced alignment lessons learned through our research at HumanLabs and in Lake Michigan." There is an able New Member of the elite Butterfly Club at work in the waters -- last year, Tom Maude did half his 5K butterfly, inspired by Boettcher's example and determined to make it all the way this year, pushy water or not. Today, despite the pushback, a quite pink Tom Maude emerged from the water a few hours later but better for the challenge, stroking the whole way, 5K, all butterfly.

In the Favorite Swimmers category, this pushback year seems to have pushed back to Chicago a few prodigal swimmers from afar to rejoin our regulars. John Carl Becker returned after several years lost at sea. Specifically, Chicago local John has been working elsewhere but missing his friends here in our great city. Last week, he did the swimmer's version of a "Hawaii 5-0" action-packed adventure and swam the Islands Channel event. After many planes, trains and automobiles, he made it here to grace us with his presence, and blaze around the 5K course in 1 hour, 10 minutes and 30 seconds. Book 'em, Becker! Big Shoulders regular and favorite Dave Ackerman brought us mirth and good cheer while blazing around the 2.5 K course, and iron-willed Phil Dodson was not far behind. Ted Soltys always brings a good 5K swim to Big Shoulders, and this year was no exception at 1:13. Researcher Candace Cham is back from the Left Coast to help the world strengthen its immune system and swim 5K open water like a champ at 1:17.51.

In the Favorite Programs category , Swim Angels were back again this year. Please lets take a moment to recognize just how challenging it can be to shepherd a beginning swimmer around the course while hanging in there yourself. How selfless is it to volunteer your effort to help another who feels a little trepidation and benefits from a swimming buddy nearby in the water? Especially on a day like today, the input is invaluable. Swim Angel Mark Jaegar and several dedicated, passionate volunteer compadres banded together to help usher some courageous swimmers around the course. Some didn't make it (they are living, of course, they just stopped swimming a little early)….that is part of the scenario when the challenge is tough and the conditions prevail.

After finishing the course, our next challenge was to finish the food and drink. Coconut water -- all kinds of coconut water -- was quite the vogue for Big Shoulders 2012. Plums, bananas, bagels, Dunkin Donuts… you name it, we scarfed it. Pulled pork was last year, but this year was for pushback. Tasty ribs from Big Shoulders Barbeque were the order of the day for post-race snacking (that is, for those who could get their stomachs to settle down). Yes, all the way around, we had ribs on our minds, but they were our own aching ribs from making all sorts of twisting adjustments to the rollicking waves.

Kudos to Sheean Design, specifically the artistic one in the family, Chris' brother, for our Big Shoulders T-shirt design this year. How cool was that? No doubt, everyone will be proudly sporting their shirt around town and at the Opera Gala this evening in Millennium Park! Was that Chris' daughter helping out and taking notes for next year? Watch out, Daddy, or your reign over Big Shoulders will be usurped by your bright understudy!

All the usual volunteers and lifeguards helped make this Big Shoulders a personal -- and pleasurable -- affair. UIC Swimming Head Coach Paul Moniak orchestrated his good-natured crew for logistics help, and the Chicago Fire Department and Parks/Rec guards did a great job keeping us safe. Just check the back of your T-shirt and you will know who really cares about Big Shoulders: Lifetime, TriSwim, Strel Swimming Adventures, ONE Coconut Water, Big Shoulders Barbeque, Greater Than Coconut Water ( the two do taste differently), Hammer Nutrition, Finis, Kirk Eye Center, Kiefer, Xterra, International Swimming hall of fame, Swim Spray, Clif Bar, Sheean Design, Chicago Masters, Advanced Occupational Medicine Specialists, and HumanLabs.

In a pushback year, when Lake Michigan gets a little ornery and we are reminded of its vicissitudes, Big Shoulders swimmers have but one choice: to jump in and persevere. When faced with mutable conditions, we must adapt. When faced with challenge, we must rely upon training, technique and fortitude. When faced with the sight of our friends nearby, pushing along with us, we can do nothing less than celebrate our good fortune, good health and good cheer. For we swimmers of Big Shoulders, its personal!