Of particular interest are the numerous shots he took at Chicago’s Promontory Point in the early 1940s. Through Cushman’s keen eye, we can see the Point was a special place even back then, when its great trees were mere saplings.
But Cushman was apparently drawn less to the landscape and water features of the Point than to the… human features. Specifically, women in bathing attire. The Point just happened to be an unusually rich source of subjects.
Here’s a sampling of Cushman’s work, with his original captions. The entire collection is available here.
Where are the sacred waters of American marathon swimming – the most historically significant swim spots? Aquatic Park (San Francisco), Brighton Beach (New York City), and La Jolla Cove come to mind.
But there’s another location – arguably as significant as those three – that remains remarkably below the radar. Promontory Point in Chicago. The Point was the primary training location of four Marathon Swimming Hall of Famers, including two Mount Rushmore-types:
- Ted Erikson – First person to swim across Lake Michigan (1961). One of only two to swim from the Farallon Islands to San Francisco (and record-holder since 1967). Former record-holder for two-way English Channel swim (1965-1975).
- Jon Erikson – First three-way English Channel swim (1981). Former record-holder for two-way English Channel (1975-1987) and youngest one-way (14 years old in 1969).
Conrad Wennerberg is Chairman Emeritus of the International Marathon Swimming Hall of Fame and author of the authoritative history of marathon swimming: Wind, Waves, and Sunburn. Originally published in 1974, the book was re-printed in 1999, and is now out of print once again. (Used copies are available through Amazon.)
Conrad (or “Connie,” as he’s known to friends) is a familiar face at Promontory Point in Chicago, my preferred training location in 2010-11. Now in his 80s, Connie still takes his noontime dip in Lake Michigan, May through October. Connie is also responsible for rescuing a treasured thermos of mine, which his friend Frank the Klepto had stolen during a late-season training swim. True story.
I’m just now getting around to reading Wind, Waves, and Sunburn, and it’s delightful.…
I don’t take pictures very often. When I do, I often forget to upload them to my computer… which means they’ll just sit there on the camera for months at a time before I remember to check them out.
Here are some pictures I took last fall at Promontory Point. Besides being the best swim spot in Chicago, the Point is also one of the more beautiful public parks you’ll ever see. In case you couldn’t tell: I love this place.
57th Street Beach and the Museum of Science & Industry, as viewed from Promontory Point. Hyde Park, Chicago, IL. September 9, 2010.
The same view from today, February 2, 2011.
Remember Ruth-Anne, star of my previous extreme-swimming documentary from Promontory Point? Here she is again, taking a quick dip last Saturday (1/29/2011) in 33F Lake Michigan (air temp about the same):
Insanely cold, yes, but let’s count our blessings: At least we didn’t have to hack through ice to find open water!
I want to congratulate my friend and fellow Point swimmer Ruth-Anne on completing the Ironman Cozumel in 16 hours 46 minutes. As an orthopedically challenged swim specialist, I can’t even begin to imagine tackling a 112-mile bike ride and a marathon run… after a 2.4-mile swim.
We open water swimmers occasionally rag on our tri friends for their neoprene fixation, but Ironmen and women are a special breed of endurance athlete. Not to mention, Ruth-Anne continued swimming in Lake Michigan sans-wetsuit through mid-November – longer than me by over a month.
In case you missed them on my Twitter feed, here are a couple videos I took at Sunday’s group swim at the Point. A few intrepid souls will continue swimming into November, but for many this was the last swim until spring. The air was chilly that morning – about 50F – and the water not much warmer at 58. But the main obstacles to swimming were the strong northerly swells, reaching up to 6 feet once you got away from the rocks.
Five of us (or so) got in for a short swim, but it was a little too wild for a trip to the pier. Ruth-Anne, the star of these videos, arrived later which allowed me to document her adventure from the comfort of warm clothes.…
In order to apply for a spot in the 25-person field of the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim, one must have recent, documented cold-water marathon swimming experience. In practice, that means either a channel crossing (English or Catalina) or a completion of one of NYC Swim’s two ultra-distance events (MIMS itself or the 17.5-mile Ederle Swim).
Otherwise, one can do an “observer documented qualifying swim” – which in the case of MIMS means a 4-hour continuous swim in water 62 degrees F or colder.
Was I ready for a 4-hour, 62-degree swim? Not really. The longest I’d swum continuously was the Miami 10K in April (2 hours, 34 minutes in 75-degree water). The coldest I’d swum was 58 degrees, a few weeks ago at the Point – but that was only for 25 minutes.…
Summer’s almost gone in Chicago. The winds are picking up; white caps on the lake are a little more frequent; the morning temperatures have a little more bite; the evenings a little less light. Soon, the lake will turn over, bringing the cold depths to the surface, and the air will fail to warm them.
So, it’s about time that I write about my favorite little corner of Lake Michigan: the cove formed by the southern face of Promontory Point and the 59th Street Pier, with the 57th Street Beach in between. “The Point” has been used by long-distance swimmers for decades, who appreciate its several unique features:…
As the 2010 open-water season draws to a close, my thoughts occasionally drift to the future – the blank slate that is 2011. And as I contemplate new goals and challenges, a recurring theme has been… cold water tolerance.
Aside from occasional childhood forays into the ocean off Santa Barbara – where it never rises much beyond the mid-60′s (F) – my cold water experience is pretty limited. Of my races this summer, the coldest was the 6K in Colorado, and that was only 67. When I moved to Chicago at the end of June, the lake was already in the mid-60′s.