William Dichtel - Chicago Skyline

Juneway Beach to Calumet Harbor Beach

37.5 km (23.3 miles)

12 hours, 27 minutes on 11-12 August 2020

Observed and documented by Marcia Cleveland + Chris Layton



  • Name: William Dichtel
  • Gender: male
  • Age on swim date: 41
  • Nationality: United States
  • Resides: Wilmette, Illinois

Support Personnel

  • Tom Holmberg - pilot
  • Laura Nieder - crew
  • Craig Strong - crew
  • Andy Walberer - crew / kayaker
  • Phil Andrew - crew / kayaker


Both completed the Chicago Skyline Swim in 2008.

Escort Vessel: Got To! (Monroe Harbor, Chicago)

Swim Parameters

  • Category: Solo, nonstop, unassisted.
  • Rules: MSF Rules of Marathon Swimming, without exception or modification.
  • Equipment used: Textile swimsuit (Banfai jammers), Aquasphere goggles, silicone cap, blue light on cap, glow stick on swimsuit, Desitin.

Route Definition

There is currently no beach at Juneway “Beach” due to record-high lake levels, so Will started from a rock, pictured below:


LongSwimsDB: Chicago Skyline Swim.

Swim Data

  • Start: 11 August 2020, 18:32:30 (Central Daylight - America/Chicago, UTC-5).
  • Finish: 12 August 2020, 07:00:20
  • Elapsed: 12 hours, 27 minutes, 50 seconds.

Summary of Conditions

Feature Min Max
Water Temp (F) 70 75
Air Temp (F) 65 75
Wind (mph) 1 (NE) 5 (NE)

GPS Track

Trackpoint frequency: 30 minutes. Download raw data (CSV).

Click to expand map.

Speed Plot


Endurox R4: Dextrose, protein blend consisting of (whey protein concentrate and whey protein isolate), maltodextrin, fructose, sucrose, citric acid, natural flavors, beet juice (for color), and sunflower oil. This product is sold as a powder and was mixed ~110g/16 oz water.

Skratch Sport: cane sugar, dextrose, sodium citrate, citric acid, pineapple, magnesium lactate, calcium citrate, potassium citrate, ascorbic acid. This product is sold as a powder and was mixed ~30g/16 oz water.

Carbopro ingredients: glucose polymers extracted from corn. This product is sold as a powder and was mixed ~75g/16 oz liquid. The liquid was a mixture of 14 oz of drip-brewed coffee (Lavazza Extra Crema Espresso Roast) and 2 oz of soy milk. The coffee was brewed 24h before the swim, chilled in a refrigerator overnight, mixed with cold soy milk, and stored cold in thermoses prior to mixing with the carbopro on the boat.

RxBar Nut Butter Packets: peanuts, egg whites, dates, coconut oil, sea salt. This product is sold as a gooey solid in 32g foil packets, which were provided to the swimmer without modification.

Observer Log

Download PDF


What inspired you to do this swim?

I had planned to swim the English Channel in June 2020. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this swim was not possible. To gain experience in marathon swimming and take advantage of my training, the Chicago Skyline Swim was suggested to me by Marcia Cleveland and Chris Layton, who had done it in 2008. Since it was local, we were able to organize it without elevated risk of illness to all involved. This undertaking proved to be an excellent experience as my first major marathon swim.

Please describe how you planned for the swim.

I had been training seriously to build up to longer swims beginning in mid-2018, before which I was swimming on a Masters team for just a few practices a week for general fitness. In 2019, I built up to swimming around 30,000 yards/week, completed the Portland Bridges Swim (11 miles), and secured an English Channel slot for June 2020. I completed the required qualifying swim in October 2019 and continued to train throughout the winter using a combination of pool swimming, strength training, and indoor running through the winter of 2020. During this period, I was regularly swimming 40,000-50,000 yards/week in the pool.

In March 2020, the pandemic caused our gyms and pools to close, and I improvised to do a combination of body weight strength training and “swimming” on a borrowed vasa swim bench for a combined 2-3 hours per day. At this point, the status of my English Channel attempt was uncertain, and I was doing my best to stay ready. By May 1, it was clear that travel to England in June would not be possible, and I began to consider alternatives. In early/mid-May, I began training in Lake Michigan, at first brief swims to acclimate to its low temperatures, and then building up to around 15-18 h/week as the water warmed. On the weekends I did progressively longer continuous swims, many with kayak support, starting with 3-4 hours and eventually reaching 8 hours around two weeks before the Skyline swim.

To prepare for the swim itself, I planned for the appropriate feeding equipment based on our combination of boat and kayak support configuration. I packed my feeding powders in individual bags for ease of use and created a detailed feeding log. I completed an application and emergency medical information. I created crew notes to communicate my needs during the swim to the crew. Marcia Cleveland arranged the logistical details concerning USCG approval and secured a boat. A few days before the swim, our captain took us out to view much of the course and practice swimming alongside the boat, which was extremely helpful.

How did the swim go, generally? Did you face any unanticipated challenges?

This swim went very well for me and I was able to establish a course record. The weather was great the whole time: flat water, low wind speeds, clear skies. I learned a lot about feedings during a long swim and how my body reacts, which will result in modified plans for future swims. I learned to swim for long periods during the night. I learned how my stroke holds up for a multiple-hour swim. I learned that I need to better communicate my needs to my crew during long swims. Overall, doing a long swim like this without the pressure and expense of travel proved to be an ideal learning experience. It is also a very beautiful swim, particularly seeing the sun set across the iconic Chicago skyline and then rise again over Lake Michigan after swimming through the night.


Click to enlarge.