DETROIT, Mich. – After spending nearly 51 hours in Lake St. Clair, Jim “the shark” Dreyer, from West Michigan, has accomplished a record-breaking swim.
On Wednesday morning a group of supporters took to the shorelines of Belle Isle in Detroit to wait for Dreyer’s arrival. While still in the water, but close enough to hear, Dreyer showed the crowd that even though he was sleep-deprived, his contagious personality remained in tact.
His first words to the waiting crowd: “I’m sorry I’m late!”
Then, at about 11:15 a.m. he stepped foot onto land, where he dropped to his knees and kissed the sand.
“Oh, it feels so good to be in Detroit,” Dreyer screamed with his hands in the air.
Although he was ready to celebrate, the team who had been by his side tracking him with a GPS while he towed a ton of bricks across the lake sat him in a lawn chair, as a paramedic checked his vital signs.
“You’re about normal,” said the paramedic about Dreyer’s blood pressure.
“Really?,” Dreyer asked. “You know, no one’s ever said I’m normal.”
After battling fierce waves, heavy winds and two lonely night falls, all Dreyer wanted to do is talk to the people who came out to support him.
“Lots of hallucinations last night,” Dryer said. “I enjoyed those. I saw lots of ghost ships. They would come right up to me and then disappear.”
His friends, who were on standby at Belle Isle the past two days, said hallucinations are common. For Dreyer, they didn’t stop there.
“Check this out. I saw a guy in a white robe standing on the water,” Dreyer said. “I swam up to his feet and he disappeared. I’m thinking it was the big J.C.”
The bricks Dreyer towed were separated into two boats and attached to his ankles, and he began training for the swim 10 months ago. Although he set a world record with the amount of weight he pulled, Dreyer said he free-styled his away across the lake for charity. Each brick, Dreyer said, will be signed by him and sold. He will be donating the proceeds to Habitat for Humanity.
“It absolutely means everything, ” he said. “What I really wanted to show is that even though there’s a lot of financial pain in the state of Michigan, and nobody has felt more pain than in the city of Detroit, we don’t have to sink with the weight of our bricks.”
His trip began in Algonac and ended in Detroit. He chose this as his destination, he said, because of the financial crisis the city is facing.
Dreyer was suppose to swim a 22-mile stretch of the water. However, it’s not clear how many miles he ended up swimming due to the issues he ran into while out on the lake.
“Every single pull, every time you go into a wave it grabs it,” Dreyer said about the bricks he hauled. “You’ve got to constantly restart your momentum with every pull.”
Along the way, while battling the elements, Dreyer ran into another problem. He said the tether connecting the two boats began to fray. Improvising, he chose to put the boats side-by-side.
“You’ve got two zodiacs each with a thousand pounds of bricks, and then the waves, they crushed me in the middle and I got caught up in the lines and the zodiacs just started pounding me like crazy,” Dreyer said. “I finally got myself loose. I think in the process I must have released, because shortly after that I was swimming and realized something felt different. I looked back and it was gone.”
That moment, Dreyer said, was bittersweet.
“For the first 18 hours I pulled two thousand pounds of bricks,” he said. “Then, I lost a thousand pounds. “But the sweet part is, nobody in the world’s ever pulled a thousand pounds of bricks.”
Even though he faced obstacles while out on the water, he said, he never seriously thought about quitting.
“When you’re getting tired of being pounded by the waves, when you’re getting tired of your dingy filling up with water and you’ve got to bail it, when you’re trying to stay awake with everything you can do and you’re falling asleep while you’re swimming, I vent,” Dreyer said. “But I would never change it. I would never think of quitting. It’s not in my vocabulary.”
He said he hopes to raise $250,000 for Habitat for Humanity.
“Jim Dreyer is just a wonderful, incredible man, who has just inspired all of us,” Bev Crandall-Rice, with the Lakeshore Habitat for Humanity, said.