Jim “the Shark” Dreyer swimming to Detroit towing a ton of bricks – literally

Nadine Kalinauskas
Good News
Jim “the Shark” Dreyer swimming to Detroit towing a ton of bricks – literally

A long-distance swimmer is in the middle of a 30-hour, 35-kilometre swim across Lake St. Clair to Detroit.

Because swimming 35 kilometres isn't hard enough, to further challenge himself, Jim" the Shark" Dreyer, 49, is crossing the lake while towing a "train of pain." Those are two dinghies filled with 334 bricks.

Total load: 906 kg (2,000 lbs).

And he's doing it without a support boat.

"This is one of those nights when you stare at the ceiling and ask yourself, "I told the world I'm going to do WHAT? Swim 22 miles across Lake St. Clair alone while pulling a ton of bricks?" he wrote on Facebook the night before his swim. "It can be kind of scary...you know, if that type of thing scares you."

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The bricks symbolize Detroit's current economic pain, he told reporters.

"I'll be towing a ton of bricks a mile further than the width of the English Channel, while finding my way alone across Lake St. Clair to Detroit," Dreyer told WZZM13. "I will pull two dinghies, each carrying 1,000 pounds of bricks, which I refer to as the 'train of pain.' My pain is symbolic of the economic pain felt by the city of Detroit and families all across the state of Michigan trying to keep their heads above water. However, instead of sinking with the weight of our burdens, I believe that we can pull together and be the bricks that rebuild lives, rebuild communities, and strengthen the foundation of this great state."

Dreyer began his swim Monday morning and is set to arrive at Detroit's Belle Isle this afternoon. He's raising money and awareness for Habitat for Humanity.

Through his swim fundraising, the Cornerstone Strength Swim Campaign, Dreyer has already helped fund building projects for up to 75 affiliates, The Associated Press reported.

Dreyer is selling engraved commemorative bricks and the authentic bricks towed across the lake to support building projects.

"I'm always coming up with these crazy ideas," he told AP.

One of the dinghies is equipped with a radar target so he can be tracked on radar screens. A GPS tracking device posts his position online. Dreyer can send pre-programmed messages at the touch of a message: to let his crew know he's okay, to request the assistance of a boat, or to alert his crew to a life-threatening situation.

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Dreyer is no stranger to the Great Lakes. He's successfully made direct crossings of all five of them. He endured Lake Superior's high waves and falling ill and losing 20 pounds in Lake Huron.

He told AP training for his current swim began in October. At one point, his training included towing a 2,700 kg (6,000-lb) boat behind him in the water.

"I'm confident that if anyone on this planet can do this, it's me," Dreyer said before the swim.

He already holds numerous world records for endurance swimming. He expects to set a new record this time, mostly because he has no competition.

"Nobody has ever pulled a ton of bricks any distance," he said. "Pretty surprising, right?"

Dreyer turns 50 on August 16.

"I'm glad I’m still pulling the bricks while I’m still 49. After I turn 50, I’d probably just sink to the bottom or something," he told the Times Herald, laughing.

Follow updates on his swim here.