Official Results

And don't forget to visit the 2000 Photo Collection


Big Shoulders 2000, the year of the National Championship designation and a Very Big start to the new Millennnium. In fact, a more fitting moniker might be Very Big Shoulders for the scale, spectacle and superlative competition of the 2000 race.

Scale: Big Shoulders swelled from 200 to 300 participants this year, a 50% increase, including approximately the entire state of Texas. Our actual count was 299, with one slot of remembrance for the transformative contributions UIC Swimming Coach John Christie made to Chicago Masters throughout his coaching career. Although John lost his lost a battle to cancer this year, Chicago Masters will not forget his great contributions and dedication to swimming at the collegiate and masters level. 

Two Big Eyes from above gazed down upon Big Shoulders at the turn of the Millennium - GPS satellites 11000 miles away helped make our beloved 5K race an exact 5.00001 K (we were all counting). With more sand and less water than last year, the old familiar 30-60-90 triangle course took a more oblong shape protruding into Lake Michigan. 

Spectacle: The real spectacle of Big Shoulders 2000 was age-neutral peak performance. Accentuating a trend witnessed around the country and even at the Olympic level, Big Shoulders showed that Masters is a designation now representing new levels of peak performance. Unquestionably, swimming now sees a person-by-person, year-by-year redefinition of the interaction of time and athletic prowess. Especially at Big Shoulders, no one is willing to passively accept limitation.

During the 2000 Championship 5K event, 8 out of the top 10 finishers were over 30, two over 40, and of course, Chicago's timeless George Wendt is still stroking strong. For the female 5K, 6 out of 10 were over 30. The top four finishers - Jim Dugan, James Allen, Robbie Allen, and Richard Kramer -- all over 30 but swimming like they belong in the 2000 Olympics. Top four females, led by Susie Rabiah, boasted three over 30. And this story repeats itself throughout the race - John Martin, Dave Ackerman, Phil Dodson, John Becker, Ted Soltys, Tom McCabe, Chris Sheean, Patty Redig, Becky Heller, Susie Straub, and the list goes on and on - all continue to set a blistering pace as the wisdom of experience couples with the enthusiasm to compete.

Adding to Big Shoulders' unique spectacle was Tom Boettcher, the "butterfly guy" who came back to complete an unprecedented third time all-butterfly swim. Big Shoulders seems to be the perfect freshwater canvas to demonstrate the extensibility of human performance and technique innovation, and the swimming community is starting to pay attention. Just back from demonstrating his butterfly innovations during Olympic Trials in Indianapolis, Boettcher is winning converts to the viewpoint that more efficiency and power can be derived from the body's core movements in the butterfly stroke.

Superlative competition: our hometown Big Gun and Triple Winner Richard Kramer had his hands full roping Texans this year, and a couple got away. Jim Dugan sped off to take first place before moseying back to those Gulf Beaches, and out-of-towner Susie Rabiah from toney Shaker Heights, Ohio shook our female division to new heights by bumping off perennial local speedster Joy Stover. Other tough local competitors like Bryan Malas, Chris Kohl, Dave Ackermann, Phil Dodson, etc. held their own against the onslaught of outside talent.

Designation as a National Masters Open Water 5K Championship event meant that swimmers came from f urther afar than ever before. Texas, California, and New Hampshire were among those represented at our Millennial event. Big Shoulders was honored to have the Secretary of the National Masters organization show up to see what the Windy City fuss was all about. Our guest VIP Tracy Grilli was Truly Gritti, placing Top Ten in the female 5K with true Yankee New England determination.

Big Shoulders also remains a place where anyone with true grit can participate at any time. In fact, all the time. Five special swimmers have competed in every Big Shoulders since its 1990. This year, a special award went to 5 "Iron Shoulders" winners, those swimmers who have completed all 10 Big Shoulders: George Wendt, Tim Griffin, Tim Kelly, Leo Algminas, and Laurie Tanimura. In addition, Shoulders regulars like Delph Gustides, Cathy Grey, Russ Hafner, John Mitchell, etc etc. came back for another round.

Once again, Chris Sheean and Kathleen Pisula orchestrated a dedicated team of volunteers to make the ever-popular Big Shoulders ever-more professional in a city that smiles upon quality and performance. Every participant is thankful to those working behind the scene - in the midst of a tough Sunday morning swim, we all notice each and every volunteer effort that helps make Big Shoulders a special race. The Saturday night dinner party hosted by Dave Ackermann and the CMSA added a new dimension of camaraderie to our big Sunday - a perfect chance to carbo-load with fellow swimmers. Each participant recognizes the tremendous expenditure of personal time necessary to stage every part of such a weekend and we are thankful for the teamwork that brings us Big Shoulders weekend.

Big Shoulders 2000: unquestionably the ascendancy of a class-act race run by class-act people in a class-act city. 

The Chicago swimming community has lost a true friend and a dedicated advocate. John Christie passed away Saturday, July 1, 2000. John was the head coach of the UIC Men's and Women's Swim Teams. John also coached and provided unlimited support to the Chicago Masters Swim Team. Under Coach Christie's guidance, Chicago Masters transformed from a loose confederacy of recreational swimmers to a bona fide swim team.  He lifted the team literally from the basement at Circle Center to the top notch facilities at the Physical Education Building.

John Christie was a firm believer that swimming is a lifetime sport. To help make it a reality, John Christie dedicated his time to working with swimmers from the age group, college, and masters swimming levels. As a coach, John always sought to better his swimmers as swimmers and as people. John's dedication, humor and kindness will be missed by the many swimmers in Chicago whose lives he touched.

Chicago Masters will dedicate the Big Shoulders 2000 5k & 2.5k Open Water Swim in John Christie's memory.

The 5K Swim in Chicago's Lake Michigan

red victor "... and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City Of the Big Shoulders ..."

Chicago - by Carl Sandburg

"the city's barrel-chested athlete;
braving the stormy, frigid, brawling,
Lake of the 3.1 mile swim ..."

- Karl Boettcher