Official Results


5K Longcourse Results

2.5K Shortcourse Results

Click here for Big Shoulders 2004 Pictures


Big Shoulders 2004 proved to be another successful endeavor for Chicago area masters swimmers and Chicago Masters Swim Club. The weather was very hospitable, with an air temperature of 68 at the race start, and a water temperature of 70. After giving their GPS tracking equipment a year off last year, co-sponsor the Chicago Park District's life guarding crew guaranteed an accurate 2.5k loop. While most swimmers indicated a general approval for accuracy, many at the start were fairly daunted by the speck on the Eastern horizon that was a 3 foot inflated triangular buoy marking the first turn. The difficulty in seeing the buoy far off under the rising sun was complicated by the presence of over 250 like colored orange caps splashing through the early morning waters, but the challenge only heightened the accomplishment.

The race drew 439 competitors this year, growing another 10% over last year. In 1998, Big Shoulders had only 110 swimmers, to give an idea of how this event has grown into a National event that showcases the best Chicago has to offer in open water competition.

Despite its emergence as a national competition, CMSA swimmers showed home lake advantage is key. Naperville swimmers swept the men's and women's 5k titles. Richard Kramer continued his dominance of Big Shoulders, winning the 5k swim for the 7th time in the past 10 years in a time of 1:02:18, with adopted Chicago Masters swimmer Seb Neumayer in second at 1:04:40 and Carlsbad, California's Mason Bailey in third at 1:05:55. Naperville swimmer Liz Dillman was the women's top finisher at 1:07:10, with Kelly Perry of St. Charles following at 1:08:05, and transplant Kansan Joy Stover rounding out the top three at 1:09:00.

The 2.5k competition was no less spirited. North Shore star Phil Dodson shone brightly as the top male finisher at 36:23, just edging out Hoosier Mark Spratt at 36:36 and Randall Brezina of Bollingbrook at 38 minutes even. On the women's side, last year's champ Peggy Dempsey decided to give someone else a chance, choosing instead to take pity on the organizing crew and lend a huge hand of support behind the scenes. Taking advantage of Peggy's absence, Indianapolis' Raena Latina (38:38) just held off Kim Lynch (38:40), with Alexandra Wendt-Constantine (40:37) rounding out the top three.

There were several other tales of success this year. Blind swimmer Heidi Musser returned to Big Shoulders after a few years' absence, finishing the 2.5k with the help of her UIC guides. Several local stars continued prowess in their age groups: Chicago Masters' lane leader George Wendt won the 55-59 age group by over 20 minutes; Tim Griffin of Beverly Shores finished first in the 60-64 age bracket by nearly 16 minutes; Stephen Gentes of San Diego beat his fellow 50-54 year olds by more than 10 minutes; and Chicago star Sarah Randag eclipsed her fellow 30-34 year olds by over 5 minutes. In addition, 5k butterflyer Tom Boettcher returned, and was joined in his feat of athleticisim and insanity by Masters coach Dan Projansky.

The post-race sentiment on the beach was very positive, with swimmers enjoying the company of fellow finishers, while wolfing down Powerbars and guzzling Gatorade. Several competitors commented that Big Shoulders 2004 proved again to be a great cap to a summer of long course training. But this event would not be possible without significant contributions from several who must be recognized. Most importantly, the outstanding support provided by co-sponsor, the Chicago Park District life guarding crew. Thanks must also go out to our sponsors, Kiefer, Red Roof Inn, Hostelling International, Party Time Productions, Infolocus, Powerbar, Marathon Sportswear, Arena swimwear. In addition, Boyd Black, Molly Quinners, Pam Smith, Tim Kelly Ramon Nayar, Casey Platt, Mike Prangle, Coach Paul Moniak and the UIC swimmers made significant contributions to insure the success of this year's event.

Be sure to circle September 10, 2005 on your calendar. The 15th annual installment of Big Shoulders will be the USMS National Championship for the 2.5k distance! See you again next year.

Chris Sheean,
Big Shoulders Race Director


A View from the Beach...


Big Shoulders 2004:
Role Models and Chocolate Wind

“Hey, I smell chocolate. Where is that coming from?” Its pretty likely that some of Big Shoulders 420 or so swimmers asked themselves that question as they rounded turn 1 and headed down the long straightaway towards the city.

Ever since its conception by Olympic Gold Medalist Bill Mulliken, through its first national media placement in a 1998 Swimmer magazine article, and with the apt stewardship of Chris Sheean and his cast, the Big Shoulders trajectory has been up and away. No question that our beloved local race is now a national destination event. Big Shoulders has a certain aura, a quality that brings out special performances and asks for the best in all of us.

But what about the chocolate? In the city of Big Shoulders, a one-time tough industrial dynamo with some remnants still going strong, the chocolate aroma means only one thing: strong west winds. A strong westerly land breeze wafts the aroma of Fulton area chocolate factories across Chicago to Lake Michigan.

No doubt, that wind also adds a few strokes to our 5 K as we fight the surface push on our relentless drive towards the 990 white condo at the far corner of the city wall. Fair to say we Big Shoulders swimmers earned our distance this year. Fact is, we were very fortunate to have relatively calm surface water and relatively temperate waters. Seems we’ve hit the sweet spot on weather with the September race date, first Saturday after Labor Day. Speaking of Turn One, how did that cone get so far away anyway?

Chris and Pam were overheard conferring with one another:
“So where do we place the first cone this year?”
“I don’t know, you want to vex them?”
“Yeah, I do.”
“Ok, lets place it in ohhh…say…somewhere near the shores of Michigan?”
“OK. We’ll tell ‘em GPS made us do it!”
“Right. Each year we’ll move it further away until we reach our ultimate goal: the Big Shoulders 10 K!”
“Its utterly diabolical. I love it!”
[Just kidding, with a tip of the hat to all race volunteers and sponsors for another job well done.]

Once again, Big Shoulders rounded up all the usual suspects for its highlights list. Perennial speedster Richard Kramer took the men’s race in his slowest time to date, but his margin of victory was still strong and his time a testament to the difficulty of this year’s race. Family man Kramer continually sets a fine example of how to balance life’s responsibilities with attention to physical fitness. Liz Dillman took the female race, and the top finishing spots on both sides were populated by familiar names like George Wendt, Dave Ackerman, Joy Stover and Candace Cham, with a sprinkling of Californians for flavor. In the One-Lapper, four men duked it out to the finish with local favorite Phil Dodson emerging victorious. Raena Latina won the 2.5 K for the women.

As our race progresses in size and stature, Role Modelling continues to be a strong theme. Consistent participants like Dennis Miller and Laurie Tanamura were back for another twice-around. Race founder Bill Mulliken started out full of oats and ready to go Two, but decided to bring it home after the first go –around. One nice aspect of Big Shoulders is the freedom it affords each and every racer to make smart judgments about endurance, performance and conditions. Its always a tough choice to round that turn for Lap Two, but Big Shoulders swimmers know that all forms of participation prove merit and deserve praise.

Another Role Model, Chris Sheean, jumped in for the swim even though he’s been concentrating his training on the upcoming LaSalle marathon in a few weeks. Big Shoulders calls upon each swimmer to craft a personal story of balance between life’s duties and the desire to train, prepare and test ourselves mentally and physically.

The Big Shoulders all-butterfly saga added a new twist for fans this year. Tom Boettcher steamrolled through another 5K all butterfly, his sixth in a row, while a newcomer joined the extreme butterfly club. Evanston coach Dan Projansky battled fatigue and cold as he finished his first all butterfly 5K in just over two hours. Imagine swimming butterfly for two hours straight with your metabolism slowly surrendering to the cool waters. You just don’t rev up body heat in butterfly like you can in freestyle. Imagine the tightening of your muscles as you continually pull your entire body out of the water for another breath. That was Dan’s initiation to the extreme butterfly club. Pioneer Boettcher said later, “I’ve quietly hoped as the years went by that someone would join me. The spread of extreme butterfly is the best tribute to this beautiful stroke, as well as the physical and mental creativity in all of us. If this trend keeps up, Big Shoulders will be 50% all-fly by 2007, right?” Yeah, sure Tom. By then the orange buoy at turn one will be half way across the lake too.

Last but not least, in a show of remarkable personal courage, local Kevin Helliker took that fateful turn for Lap Two of the 5 K, finishing in a fine time despite his battle with congenital heart challenges, as chronicled in the Wall Street Journal. Helliker’s personal choice simply to participate is testament to the extent to which each Big Shoulders’ swimmer demonstrates personal courage and willingness to meet legitimate fears with resolve and fortitude. In a sense, Helliker was a silent Role Model for the category “Showing Heart”. In fact, every Big Shoulders swimmer every year comes back to show their own version of heart. In the year of the Chocolate Wind, we salute them all.

The Big Shoulders Website Gang